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Harry Lee was fortunate to have 
been bom a Lee of Virginia. In spite 
of what many people thought, 
Harry's first words were probably 
no* "Charge the bastards! Ride them 
down, boys!" Yet they might have 
been. The son of a wealthy planter, 
he learned to ride and perhaps even 
to swear at three or four. By the 
time he was in college his acquaint- 
ances included men like James 
Madison and Aaron Burr. By 1776 
he was Captain of a troop of the 
Virginia Cavalry. And at Valley 
Forge ho, more than any other man, 
kept the ragged Revolutionary 
Army from .starving to death. 

This is the remarkable man whose 
life has been captured in LICUT- 
HOHSK HAIWY* It was a life which 
had triumphs enough for half a 
vt'o/en men. Governor of Virginia 
after tibo Revolution, he wits ap- 
pointed Major General of the Army 
by George Washing ton, and soon be 

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956*95 S56j 62-04186 


Jordan^ a state of tension 

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By the same author 


Professor, Middle Eastern Studies, Dropsie College 

NEW YORK -1959 









Territory and name Trade highway: North-South and East- 
West Agricultural development Water preservation and 
utilization Soil conservation and terracing Security and 
stability Settlement and resettlement Bedouin versus 
settler - Non-continuity: periodic cycles - Internal and ex- 
ternal forces - Land described "Transjordan" physical, not 
political, term Climate and precipitation Three major 
divisions: Gilead, Moab, Edom. 


Prehistoric settlement Bronze age Iron age General 
development Biblical times David's conquests Mesha's 
revolt Coming of the Assyrians End of period. 


, Three settlement elements The Jewish forces Returning 
Hebrew exiles The Hellenistic element The Greek 
League cities The desert Arabs Nabatean society and 
regime Nabatean security Extension of Jewish power 
Perea fully Jewish Achievements of Alexander Janneus 
Clashes with Nabateans Hasmonean power Tobiad 


Alexander Janneus' heirs The two brothers dash Rome 
invited Antipater and Jewish losses to Nabatea End of 
the Hasmoneans Enter Herod Rome goes after the Na- 
bateans Extension of the Perea Herod's successors 
Rome takes Petra Roman defense system Petra described 
Decapolis under Rome Arrangements and rearrange- 
ments Roman decline. 



Appearance of Islam Battle of Yarmuk Devastation of 
the Roman cities Territorial organization Seljuk Turks 
- Hajj road - Crusaders' interlude de CMtillon 
Saladin and the end of the Crusaders - Battle of Hattin 
The Ottoman Turks The Bedouin tribes Turkish sub- 
mission to Bedouin control Karak. 


The Eastern question Attempts to extend government 
authority Circassians Madeba settlement Madeba map 

Bedouin rule Turkish administrative organization The 
Hijaz railway: pan-Islamism, strategic importance, financing 

Revolt in Karak. 

Chapter VII: WORLD WAR I 102 

Traditional British policy Britain in search of a new policy 

Husain of Mecca and his sons Hashimite ambitions and 
schemes Position of the Entente The Central Powers 
Negotiations for an Arab Revolt The MacMahon corres- 
pondence The new Islamic state Anglo-French differences 
Sykes-Picot agreement Revolt proclaimed The territory 
conquered Abdullah's role Husain and Ibn Saud 
Abdullah's disgrace: Khurma Abdullah and Allenby In 
Transjordan British first administrative attempts Threat 
to Syria. 

Sharifian rearrangement Abdullah enters Transjordan 
The British 1921 Cairo Conference - The new solution The 
meaning of the conditions Originally Transjordan included 
in Palestine Expediency becomes policy Administration 
organized Difficulties encountered Philby's clashes 
First British promise of independence Philby leaves 
British new policy and control Colonel Cox. 


Conditions in 1918-1920 - Role of Peake Pasha - Recruiting 
difficulties Kura incident Character of the security force 
- The Adwan rising - The Arab Legion - The Wahhabi 
attacks - Husain in Amman - Ibn Saud attacks The 
debacle in the Hijaz The Maan-Aqaba area The Hadda 
agreement The Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. 



Administrative divisions Taxation system Land regime 
Government personnel - Political development - The 1928 
agreement Abdullah's consent Organic Law Character 
of constitutional structure The first Legislative Council 
Glubb's desert area Bedouin administration Attempts 
at sedentarization. 


The 1934 agreement Constitutional development Admin- 
istrative personnel Economics and finances Trade Ab- 
dullah's development attempts Mandatory status Land 
regime Land holdings Policy on nomads Relations 
with neighbors General development. 

Chapter XII: THE ARAB LEGION, 1927-1948 201 

Up to 1939 Glubb's ascendency At war with Germany 
World War II efforts Unsuccessful attempts Financing 
the Legion - The new independence - The 1946 treaty 
The Amirate ended, the Kingdom proclaimed Transjordan 
seeks United Nations membership More independence: the 
1948 treaty. 


Abdullah's character Greater Syria Cooperation with the 
British Palestine Royal Commmission recommendations 
Inter-Arab ambitions Arab unity concepts British policy 
on Arab unity - The Alexandria protocol The formation 
of the Arab League Independence of Greater Syria Ab- 
dullah persists British position General development 
since 1941. 


The proposed Arab state and Transjordan Abdullah's reluc- 
tance Preparation for war The Legion's status The 
Legion enters the war The battles The first truce 
Annexation hopes Second truce The Lydda-Ramle 
battle Glubb's humiliation The ten days of hostilities 


Armistice negotiations The Affaire Aqaba Transjordan- 


Israel armistice agreement First steps Arab Palestine's 
new status Internationalization of Jerusalem The Syrian 
scene Peace feelers First Jordan elections Before the 
Arab League Final annexation act Reaction Internal 


Eastern and Western banks British control Succession 
issue Anti-Abdullah forces Cabinet shifts Abdullah's 
assassination Talal versus Naif Husain becomes king 
Egypt and Glubb Economic efforts Financial structure 

Anti-Western agitation Iraqi maneuvers Bagdad Pact 
affair Anti-Pact agitation Glubb's ouster Reaction. 


Legion command The Aswan Dam issue Parliamentary 
elections Suez Canal affair Treaty cancelled United 
States' role Husain 's maneuvers Showdown Zarqa 
incident Husain gains control United States support. 

What Now? In search of aid King Saud's position 
Lebanon's election Syro-Turkish crisis Syro-Jordan 
tension Arab unions Saudi Arabia's neutrality Iraq- 
Jordan union Inter-union friction Disturbances in 
Lebanon Security Council role Foreign troops in Lebanon 
and Jordan Security Council paralyzed The Soviet Union 
and a "Summit" meeting Before the General Assembly 
Resolution Evaluation. 


Development pattern Annexation a disruption East-West 
struggle Western objectives and methods Nasser's role 
Arab nationalism and Nasserism Position of Arab states 

Nasserism in ascendency Soviet support. 


INDEX 425 


Underground reservoirBeit Ras 5 

Pre-historic rock drawing Kilwa 18 

Dolmen Arqub Ibn Hadad 18 

Dolmen west of Natfeh 19 

Menhir Khirbat Iskander 19 

Moabite border fortress-Qasr abu al Kharaq 22 

Mesha stone 27 

Remains of Roman dam Wadi Dobai 33 

Nabatean tomb al Bared 36 

Rock-cut aqueduct Petra 39 

Ruins Petra 43 

Altar of the High Place-Petra 44 

Roman road east of Wadi Laban 57 

Reservoir Um al Jamal 58 

Siq-Petra 61 

The treasury-Petra 62 

Amphitheatre Petra 63 

The Deir-Petra 64 

Stone door Qasr Azraq 67 

Roman theatre Amman 69 

Roman forum Jarash 70 

Roman theatre Jarash 71 

Roman thoroughfare Jarash 72 

Qasir Amrah 76 

Medieval Arabic castle Qalat ar Rabad 77 

Crusader castle Karak 87 

As Salt 91 

Roman theatre Amman 93 

Columns of a street near Roman theatre Amman 94 

Tafilah HI 



Shobek 112 

King Abdullah, his father Husain 120 

The Jordan Valley 124 

Legionaries at headquarters Amman 151 

Roman temple, detail of columns Jarash 193 

Tombs-Petra 197 

Camelry of Arab Legion Jerusalem 205 

King Abdullah and Amir Abdul Illah Amman 214 

King Abdullah and King Faruq Cairo 218 

Aqaba port, 1954 277 

King Abdullah offered the throne of Palestine 281 

King Abdullah at Portsmouth, on the Victory 285 
King Abdullah leaving the Mosque of Omar- Jerusalem 307 

King Talal and Glubb Pasha-Amman 311 

Anti-government demonstration Amman, April, 1957 353 

Hashim cabinet meeting Amman 354 

King Saud and King Husain Amman 363 
United Nations Secretary General in Amman, August, 1958 391 



900 B.C. 15 

Herodian Era 55 

Madeba 97 

Royal Commission Partition Scheme 229 

Modern Administrative 243 

United Nations Partition Plan 247 

Arab Lineup, November 1957 371 


I-Government Finances 1924-1931 , 164 

II-Government Finances 1931-1941 188 

Ill-Trade 1936-1941 188 

IV-Transjordan Exports to Palestine 1936-1938 189 

V-Land Holdings 1937 195 


in the Middle East during World War I and in the 
post-war period were of decisive importance in the history 
of the region; the events that followed World War II, with all 
their speed and magnitude, were, in fact, the logical conse- 
quences of the revolutionary changes of the earlier period. Three 
elements contributed to the modern historical pattern of the 
Middle East general internal growth, inter-Arab relations, and 
Great Power interests. To these should, of course, be added the 
impact of the personalities and dynasties which, together with 
the other elements, were often working at cross-purposes. Friction 
and even open clashes resulted. 

An interesting and instructive study of these forces operating 
on basic geographic factors is afforded by Transjordan. Its 
emergence as a separate political entity, as a product of the 
exigencies following the defeat of the Turks at the hands of the 
Allies, the subsequent unfolding of internal regional forces as 
they crossed and recrossed international interests, the role of 
Abdullah both as regards his personal and dynastic ambitions 
and his national Arab aspirations, and inter-Arab ambitions as 
they bore on the territory, all make Transjordan an excellent 
subject of investigation. 

The story of the last fifty years of the Middle East, as it is 
reflected in the history of Transjordan, is presented in the 
following pages. For a sounder comprehension of the modern 
period, the historical background of the preceding four thousand 
years has been briefly outlined. The major emphasis in the 
modern period is on the political development. The sociological 
and economic aspects are not, of course, of secondary importance, 
but excellent studies on these aspects have recently been made 
by the International Bank, George L. Harris and Raphael Patai, 
all listed in the bibliography. 

The author gratefully acknowledges his debt to the many 
authorities and experts on. whose works he drew generously in 


elaborating the first section of the book. Because of a desire to 
make the reading easier, he was obliged regretfully to reduce 
the number of footnotes to a minimum, but he sincerely hopes 
that they will serve as a guide to the voluminous and very 
valuable literature on the subject. Indeed, the comprehensive 
though by no means exhaustive bibliography (401-424) is meant 
to supplement the footnotes and help readers investigate further 
the numerous topics and issues dealt with or mentioned. 

The maps are merely sketch outlines and make no pretense 
of accurately establishing controversial ancient sites. They are 
intended, as are the illustrations, to assist readers to a better 
understanding of the limited story of Trans Jordan and the 
greater issues of the Middle Eastthe objective which motivated 
the writing of the book. 


March 1, 1959 

The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Harry Starr, President, 
graciously assisted with part of the research in the preparation 
of the work, r 


Chapter I 

Territory and Name 

f | 1HE STRIP of territory from Aqaba on the Gulf of Aqaba, 

which is bounded on the east by the Arabian Desert, on 
the north by the Yarmuk River valley, and on the west by 
the River Jordan, the Dead Sea and the Wadi Arabah, has had a 
long history which, though colorful, has nevertheless been de- 
termined by a number of basic geographical factors that have 
regulated the development of the territory from prehistoric times 
down to our own days. Indeed, the international crisis now re- 
volving around this territory is the result of those same factors. 
The territory, which has been variously described as "the other 
side of Jordan," "the eastern side of Jordan," and "Trans- 
Jordan," has served, in spite of its high mountainous areas cut by 
deep gorges and valleys, as a highway connecting Arabia and, at 
times, India and the Far East, with Syria and Europe. In ancient 
times goods from the Orient were carried over Transjordan from 
south to north. All the spices and treasures of the East were trans- 
ported by caravans across its entire length. The "king's highway" 
over which the Israelites wanted to travel in Edom on their 
way to Canaan was the well-established trade route over which 
the merchants normally passed. Caravans were probably per- 
mitted to use the "highway" for a stipulated fee, at the same time 
paying well for food and water, for they needed the protection of 
the established government. However, Edom, which was the 
most southerly part of Transjordan, would not let a whole 
people use the "highway" even though they were ready to pay 
for the water which they and their cattle used. The danger of 
invasion was too great, and the Edomites were determined to 
employ their full strength to prevent the Israelites from passing 
through their country. 


This "king's highway" was already a well-established route 
linking the various states in the territory. It was over the founda- 
tions of the highway that the Nabateans, about a thousand years 
later, carried on the flourishing trade which made them for a 
long time the undisputed masters of the territory. It was over 
the same foundations that the Romans built the Trajan Way, 
great sections of which are not only well preserved until this 
day, but considerable parts of which were incorporated into the 
highway system of modern Transjordan. 

Trade Routes 

The south-north trade route became the line of human settle- 
ment. A great number of towns and villages throughout the 
length of the territory were located along the route in prehistoric 
as well as historic times, and the trade artery was one of the main 
wealth-providing sources for the population. Revenue from the 
trade was both direct and indirect. The various towns and king- 
doms collected direct levies from the merchant caravans for per- 
mitting them to travel on the highways in their territory. But of 
no less importance was the indirect income. The caravans needed 
food, water and shelter; they needed storage places for their 
cargoes, and other commercial necessities. Some of the towns 
became transfer stations, others markets, while still others general 
commercial centers. These brought wealth and power to some of 
the cities which dominated the trade route. 

The east-west routes also had considerable significance. The 
major valleys and gorges which transversed the territory became 
the highways over which trade flowed between Babylon and 
Egypt, and between Babylon and Europe. These highways were 
also the principal routes of conquest between the empires of the 
east and the west. The line of settlement can also be traced by 
the east-west trade movements. In some instances the inter- 
sections of the east-west and south-north routes became the great 
commercial centers, as well as focal points of power. Petra in 
Nabatean times was such a center par excellence. 

Agricultural Development 

But the trade routes alone could not have created the condi- 
tions necessary for existence had not the people learned to 

Courtesy American Schools of Oriental Research 

Underground reservoir Beit Ras 


cultivate the land and to husband the water resources. Moreover, 
while there are many fertile sections in the territory, a consider- 
able part is mountainous and rocky; in order to produce their 
necessities, the inhabitants had to use their greatest ingenuity to 
preserve the irregular amount of rain water and to make the 
most of the available soiL The achievements of some of the 
ancient peoples who lived in this territory were phenomenal. As 
the archeologists uncover more of the ancient sites, we learn not 
only of the dose settlement of the area and the enormous popu- 
lations which were supported there, but of the methods used to 
preserve the water which fell on the land. Dams and reservoirs 
were built; pools, underground cisterns, tunnels, to bring water 
from one area to another, all underground to protect the water 
both from evaporation and from enemies; channels to carry the 
overflow from one pool to another; conduits; underground 
works for well water; and aqueducts capable of carrying water 
great distances. The Nabateans, for instance, dug their pools 
away from, the towns so that in time of war the entire population 
could leave the towns and operate from the outside against the 

Soil conservation was also well known to some of these ancient 
peoples. Testimony to that are the many traces of terraced moun- 
tainsides which must have yielded the fruits and other crops that 
made the territory famous in olden times. These attempts at 
water preservation and terracing indicate an ability for long- 
range planning and for great national coordinated efforts which 
could only come from culturally and politically advanced people 
who understood the advantage of working toward the future, 
who had a sense of permanency and could plan and execute large 
projects. In addition, there had to be a well-established, socially 
conscious regime which could keep all the water works in full 
operating capacity. These achievements were not characteristic 
of nomadic tribes. 

Agricultural productivity and the great trade routes were 
premised on one condition: security. The caravans could flourish, 
the "highway" could prosper, and the agriculturalist could sow 
and reap and dispose of his products only so long as it was safe 
to work, to travel, and to trade in the depot and market towns. 
Without security and safety, there would have been no trade 
and no prosperity; in other words, no agriculture, no towns, 
no kingdoms. Security meant political stability and military 


strength. Indeed, the history of Transjordan was determined by 
the ability of the peoples to maintain security. In times of 
security, new towns were built, more land was cultivated, and 
the sown was extended further and further into the desert, water 
was collected and preserved, roads extended and improved, and 
civilization flourished. With the deterioration of security all this 
disappeared and the territory became a wasteland. 

Security and Stability 

There was another geographical factor that determined the 
security question. Along its entire eastern border the territory 
is exposed to the desert. From time to time, hordes of nomads 
poured out from the desert and invaded the settled area. When 
the settled communities were strongly developed and well or- 
ganized, they were able to repel the invading hordes and drive 
them back into the desert. But when they were not united and 
not well organized, perhaps weakened from within or from with- 
out, the invaders became the spearhead of a struggle between the 
desert and the sown which inevitably resulted in the complete 
defeat of the settled populations. 

Now entered a purely human element, one practically unpre- 
dictable. Sometimes the invading hordes would overrun the 
country and turn it into roaming grounds for their flocks of 
camels and goats, and they never became cultivators, even of a 
semi-sedentary character. At other times the tribes would slowly 
begin to cultivate the land they had overrun and after a while 
they would become the settled population and develop a 
flourishing sedentary culture. Then they in turn would become 
the bulwark against new invaders from the desert. The former 
nomads would become the exponents of pushing the sown 
further into the desert; they would develop trade and become 
the advocates and promoters of settled culture and civilization. 
Security would be re-established and a period of prosperity 
would come upon the country. Again the Nabateans may have 
been such an example. Originating as Arab tribes which came 
into Transjordan from the desert, they established themselves 
in Edom and built or rebuilt the city of Petra. They introduced 
the most glorious period of Petrean history whose silent glory 
still survives. 

But insecurity sometimes stemmed from the territory of Trans- 


Jordan itself. When the different states in the territory warred 
against each other, international trade would be endangered. 
Or when ambitious kings attempted to wage warfare against 
their neighbors to the West, again trade and prosperity would 
be endangered In such cases the forces from the West would 
ultimately establish themselves in Transjordan and restore 
security and prosperity. The early wars between the various 
kingdoms of Transjordan and the Israelite kings weakened the 
territory and prepared it for general invasion from the north 
when the country was entirely laid waste. 

At other times the Transjordan territory became the bone of 
contention between its powerful neighbors. It was an issue 
between the Seleucid dynasty of Syria and the Ptolemaic dynasty 
of Egypt. Or, the empty wastes of the neglected country were 
simply taken over by forces from the West, Alexander of Mace- 
don passed through the territory on his way to Persia; after his 
death some of the soldiers who had been with him settled in 
Transjordan and established Greek cities which ultimately 
became the Decapolis League of the Ten Cities. Some of the 
returning Jewish exiles from Babylon settled there, and the 
Maccabees took a number of cities and re-established a great 
Jewish community. Archeologists are discovering Jewish syna- 
gogues in what were considered completely Hellenic cities. The 
pressure of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies weakened the Naba- 
teans, and paved the way for their ultimate surrender to the 

Settlement and Resettlement 

Under the impact of Rome, new cities were established, roads 
were reconstructed and extended, trade flourished, and Greco- 
Roman culture prospered. Security was guaranteed. It was per- 
haps during this period that the Decapolis cities reached the 
peak of their development. But when the Roman Empire broke 
up into two parts and Transjordan came under Byzantine con- 
trol, security began to deteriorate. The Provincia Arabia was 
encircled by a series of posts and forts, known as Limes Arabicus, 
which were garrisoned by nomads engaged by the Byzantines to 
guarantee the province's security, This form of insurance 
eventually broke down; after a brief skirmish between the By- 
zantines and the Persians, Transjordan succumbed again to the 


hordes from the desert, this time in the form of Islam. The cities, 
with all their Greco-Roman cultural splendor, were suddenly 
abandoned. Trade disappeared. The water-gathering and 
-preserving works were allowed to silt up or break down, agri- 
culture was neglected, and the herds of the desert bedouins again 
roamed the land. 

For a short period the Crusaders penetrated Oultre-Jourdain. 
They established forts and castles and attempted to revive a 
monopoly over trade. But they were expelled by Salah ad Din, 
and once more the territory reverted to its nomad character. 

In the sixteenth century Transjordan became part of the 
Turkish Empire. The change from Arab to Turkish control 
did not, however, materially affect it, for neither the Arabs nor 
the Turks had any real control over the territory and it contin- 
ued to be ruled by the nomadic tribes according to their own 
practices. It was during this period that the old aspect of the 
country as a highway between Arabia and Syria was once 
more demonstrated. A little to the east of the old "king's high- 
way," practically on the fringe of the desert, a new road was 
established the Hajj or pilgrim road, for Muslims traveling to 
Mecca to perform their religious pilgrimage. Though primarily 
of religious importance, this road also served commercial ends. 
Security on the highway was a serious problem and the pilgrims 
had to pay the exorbitant demands of the roaming tribes to be 
able to proceed unmolested. The territory was, for all intents 
and purposes, a no-man's land where the law of the official 
government had no status. Even as late as 1875 the Pasha of 
Damascus, in whose territory Transjordan was included and who 
paid forty-five purses of gold (equal in those days to about 2,350) 
to the Sultan of his pashalik, had to pay 1,800 purses to the 
nomadic Arabs along the Hajj road to secure free passage for the 
pilgrims. When Ibrahim Pasha invaded Palestine in the 1840's 
in a war against the Turkish Sultan, he rebuilt some of the old 
forts in Transjordan with an eye to establishing security and 
perhaps even reviving the territory. But he was forced by the 
Western powers to retreat to Egypt, and chaos returned. Only 
toward the latter part of the nineteenth century and the begin- 
ning of the twentieth did the Ottoman regime take measures to 
establish order and security. Some semblance of government was 
instituted in some areas, but the territory as a whole remained 
under the control of local tribes. 


The Turkish Government again demonstrated the importance 
of the territory as a highway between Syria and Arabia early in 
the century when it began to construct a railway (the Hijaz) 
along the old Hajj road which was to connect Damascus with 
Medina and eventually with Mecca. The section from Damascus 
to Amman was actually opened in 1904. There were to be branch 
lines and it was envisaged that the railway would be a major 
artery for commercial as well as military purposes; in fact, the 
Sultan of Turkey saw in it an instrumentality for the advance- 
ment of pan-Islamism. 

The establishment of modern Transjordan by the British Gov- 
ernment was one more effort (formally it was directed by the 
Arabs; actually it was managed by the British) to make the area 
safe, to turn the wandering nomads and semi-nomads into settled 
cultivators, and to make them guardians of the country against 
intruders from the desert. The latest events in Transjordan's 
history are the attempt to extend its power in a westward direc- 
tion, and eastward in the union with Iraq. 


Because of these basic factors, the history of Transjordan has 
not been a continuous one. For about five or six hundred years 
the country would flourish, the desert would be pushed back, 
civilization would prosper, security be established, trade carried 
on, and agriculture developed through various methods of water 
preservation and terracing. Then, as a result of inter-city or inter- 
kingdom strife, or because of attempts to extend power, or in wars 
against neighboring countries, 9. decline would set in and security 
would deteriorate. Subsequently, trade would decrease, hordes 
of nomads would overrun the territory, the water system would 
break down, and the desert would gradually encroach on the 
settled territory. After an interval of some five hundred years, 
the rebuilding would again begin, started either by an excep- 
tional wave of nomads from the east, or by settlers who came 
from the west. Slowly the process of development would get 
under way, roads would be improved, agriculture developed, 
security established, trade would flow, prosperity set in and new 
cities rise. 

Most of the new cities were built on the sites of the old ones, 
but they were not continuous superimpositions, for the bedouins 


were not builders, Thus, for example, although the modern city 
of Amman is located near the site of Roman Philadelphia, which 
in turn was located on the site of Rabbath Ammon of the Bible, 
there is at least a thousand years' gap between Roman Philadel- 
phia and the establishment, in the latter part of the last century, 
of imported Circassians on the ruins of the Roman Theatre. 

Needless to say, not all parts of what is now called Transjor- 
dan shared the exact same fate at the exact same time. Some 
parts, especially in the north, were more closely connected with 
the western bank of the Jordan and had at times a somewhat 
different history than the sections of the far south. However, in 
broad outline we may discern some major crests of growth and 
prosperity, and, conversely, periods of complete desolation. 

Historical Crests 

From modern archeological discoveries, we learn that the entire 
territory reached a height of culture and material development 
in the early Bronze Age, from about 2300-2000 B.C. Its settled 
populations had established apparently very advanced agri- 
cultural economies and were politically organized into city-states. 
At about 1900 B.C. there was an invasion from the east which 
brought complete destruction to the territory. Genesis, Chap. 
XIV, where it is told that a group of kings headed by Chedor- 
laomer conquered and devasted the territory, no doubt refers to 
this disaster. It was apparently after centuries of desolation that 
the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Amorites, and later the Isra- 
elites made their appearance as settled populations. Most of these 
must have been nomadic tribes which came in from the desert. 
During the early Iron Age period, about 1200-900 B.C., Moab 
especially reached the height of its power and prosperity and 
prevented the Israelites from passing through its territory. Some- 
thing caused the northern part of the country to be weakened, 
and this factor enabled the Israelites to penetrate and conquer 
the land and pass on their way to Canaan. About 900 B.C. the 
fortunes of the kingdoms of the area began to decline. Inter- 
kingdom wars, wars between the kingdoms of Transjordan and 
their western and northern neighbors finally brought desolation, 
and by about 800 B.C. the country was again a wasteland, over- 
run by forces from the north and northeast. The bedouins had 
again taken over. Five hundred years later the country was reset- 


tied, especially the southern part, by the Nabateans coming from 
the east and by the soldiers of Alexander and returning Judean 
exiles from the west. Although there were constant wars and 
pressures from Syria and Egypt, its growth was rapid and at 
about 100 A.D, under the Roman regime, it gained the height 
of its development. 

With the breakdown of the Roman Empire, it was once more 
weakened, and in the seventh century, it was overrun by the Arab 
invasion. Until the latter part of the nineteenth century, except 
for a very short interval during the Crusades, it was almost 
entirely nomad territory. 

The establishment of the British mandate was to have been 
the beginning of a new settlement period. But as late as 1932 a 
formidable horde of bedouins threatened to invade Transjordan. 
For the first time in history the Beni Atiya encamped on the 
borders of settlement, and it was only the determination and 
strength of the Government that prevented a complete break- 
down of the settled population and forced the nomads into the 

Land Described 

Transjordan, as it was established in 1921 and as it remained 
until 1950, was a new political concept. Never in the long history 
of the territory had there been such a political unit as was repre- 
sented in mandatory Transjordan. Covering an area of some 
90,000 square kilometers, the country was bounded on the west 
by the Wadi Arabah, the Dead Sea and the River Jordan; on 
the southeast and east by Saudi Arabia; on the northeast by Iraq; 
and on the north by Syria. Traiisjordan's actual boundaries with 
Iraq and Saudi Arabia were in the desert and had never been 
demarcated. The length of the territory was about 380 kilome- 
ters, and at its narrowest the width was about 150 kilometers. 

Lengthwise, Transjordan may be divided into four zones in 
terms of cultivation. 1) The deep valley (the Ghor), rising from 
the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, is an area of about 550 
square kilometers, sub-tropical in character and capable of being 
made very productive through artificial irrigation. 2) The moun- 
tainous section, running the entire length of the country from 
north to south, ranges in height from about 5,000 feet above sea 


level and covers an area of about 6,700 square kilometers; except 
for a few areas in the extreme south, it is practically all cultiv- 
able, 3) The plateau, falling from about 3,000 to 1,500 feet 
above sea level, runs from the mountainous zone to the Hijaz 
railway; it covers approximately 5,500 square kilometers, some 
of which is cultivable. The plateau descends gradually until it 
merges with the desert in the Wadi Sirhan. At the extreme south, 
between Maan and Aqaba, there occurs a sudden drop of some 
2,000 feet into the area known as Hasma; this covers about 5,000 
square kilometers, some of which is cultivable, especially in the 
narrow valleys. 4) The desert area covers some 72,000 square 
kilometers. There are two major oases Jofar and Azraq 45 and 
48 kilometers respectively east of the railway. 

Climate and Precipitation 

Climatically, Jordan is a rather pleasant country. In the sum- 
mer the shade temperatures seldom reach 100 Fahrenheit and 
the nights are always cool. In the winter it is cold in the moun- 
tainous areas. The rainy season is normally between November 
and March. Between the rainy days the skies are clear and 
bright, and in the sun and out of the wind it is pleasantly warm. 
In the Jordan valley and at Aqaba the winter is mild and attrac- 
tive, but in the summer it is very hot in both places. Relative 
humidity in the Jordan valley ranges from 75 per cent in the 
winter to 45 in the summer; on the plateau from 70 per cent in 
the winter to 25 per cent in the summer; and in the mountainous 
area from 60 per cent to 10. 

In terms of rainfall the country may be divided into two zones: 

1) the rainfall zone in which the precipitation in a normal year 
is sufficient for the growing of cereals. The heaviest rainfall 
occurs on the top of the Jordan escarpment and eastward from 
it; the annual rainfall ranges from 12 to 20 inches. Still further 
east the precipitation decreases rapidly to 4 to 12 inches, and in 
the desert zone it declines from 4 inches to less than one inch. 
The rainfall zone is widest (about 56 kilometers) in the north, 
narrowing gradually until it finally tapers off south of Maan. 

2) the dry zone, where the normal precipitation is sufficient for 
raising cereals. The Hijaz railway is practically the demarcation 
line between the desert and the sown. 


The Three Major Divisions 

Widthwise, Transjordan is divided into three major divisions 
which correspond roughly to the ancient Gilead, Moab and 

Gilead, which stretches from the Yarmuk valley to the Mojib 
River (Biblical Arnon), is a mountainous plateau rising to a 
height of about 4,000 feet. It is cut into two parts by the Zarqa 
River '(Biblical Jabbok). Gilead is composed of two districts: 
the one between the Yarmuk and the Zarqa is called Ajlun; the 
one between the Zarqa and the Mojib is called the Balqa. On 
the whole it is a fertile land; in ancient times it was covered with 
forests, and it is still the most wooded area of all Transjordan. 
In ancient times it was also the land of spices. In terms of rain- 
fall, it receives the greatest amount of precipitation of the entire 
country. Moreover, it is the most thickly settled; it had in 
ancient times, as it has today, the largest number of settlements, 
including the capital, Amman. Both the Yarmuk and the Zarqa 
Rivers flow the year-round and empty into the Jordan River; the 
Yarmuk is the major contributory of the Jordan. 

The valley of the Zarqa is of great fertility. The headwaters of 
the Zarqa rise west of Amman, where the river is known as 
Amman. It flows eastward and passes Amman to the old Hajj 
road, whence it turns north and then northwest, cutting the 
Gilead range into two, then winds west-southwest until it empties 
into the Jordan. The water is shallow and muddy; it runs over a 
stony bed that seems to have a gray-blue color, hence the name 
Zarqa, which means blue. Of importance also are the Wadi 
Hesban (Biblical Heshbon), the Wadi Yabes (Yabesh), and Zarqa 
Main, with its hot springs, which empties into the Dead Sea. 

Because of its natural fertility and its geographical and physi- 
cal similarities to the neighboring western side of the Jordan, 
Gilead has played a much more important role in Transjordan' s 
history than has any other section. It was the scene of many 
struggles between the forces from the west, east, north and 
south. More than any other part of the territory, it formed an 
integral section of the Israel and Judean states throughout its 
long history. 

M oab, the central section, stretches from the Wadi Mojib to 
the Wadi Hasa (Zered), both of which rivers empty into the Dead 
Sea. The territory is formed by slopes and a more or less consist- 
ent plateau of about 5,000 feet above sea level. The western 


900 B.C. 

Mahanim : AMMON 


lath / Etzion Geber 


slopes rise abruptly from the Dead Sea; the eastern slopes descend 
gradually until they merge with the desert. The rainfall on the 
plateau is adequate; actually it is four times as great as that of 
the desert of Judea on the western side of the Dead Sea opposite. 
Moab, which corresponds roughly to the modern Karak division, 
was once heavily populated and the territory was dotted with 
towns and villages; the area as a whole was well fortified. It 
produced wheat, wine, fruit and cattle (Karak wheat is still con- 
sidered one of the best quality wheats throughout the Middle 
East), and it supplied the neighboring countries with huge num- 
bers of sheep, goats and camels. The northern and northeastern 
sides of Moab, which sometimes extended to the northern bank 
of the Mojib, were troublesome areas that perhaps saw more 
wars than any other part of the country. As a result, the banks 
of the Arnon became celebrated in ancient literature. 

The third major division, Edom, corresponds roughly to the 
modern Maan division. It extends from the Wadi Hasa southward 
to the extreme end of the Gulf of Aqaba. In terms of rainfall 
it is the least watered section of Transjordan, but there are many 
valleys which make cultivation of trees possible and which afford 
good grazing. In ancient times Edom was covered with forests, 
and it has been suggested that it was called Seir, which means 
hairy, because of its heavily-covered mountain tops. It had a 
goodly number of cities and villages. 

Edom is divided into two parts: the northern portion, Jabal 
(Hebrew Gebal) and the southern portion, as Sharah (Hebrew 
Seir). Because of the land's rocky character, the inhabitants not 
only lived in caves from very early times, but built entire cities 
out of rock, as is testified by the Biblical Selaa (which means 
rock) and later by Petra. 

No statistics exist on the ancient populations that inhabited 
the different sections of Transjordan and no accurate estimate 
can therefore be made of the number of people the territory sup- 
ported. However, from the great number of sites of towns and 
villages uncovered, the forests which were a source of lumber, the 
agricultural products exported, it may be deduced that the terri- 
tory was able to maintain huge populations in ancient times* 1 

I Nelson Glueck, the famous archeologist who has made a special study of 
Transjordan, estimates, on the basis of hundreds of ancient sites which he 
discovered, that the population in Roman times was about one-and-a-quarter 
million. The River Jordan (Philadelphia, 1946)f 128. The figure arrived at 
by C. S. Jarvis, a long-time student of the region, for the period is one-and- 
a-half million. Arab Command. The Biography of Lt. Colonel F. G. Peaks 
Pasha (London, 1943), 55. 

Chopter II 

Pre-Historic Settlement 

established the certainty of the existence of settlements 
in Transjordan in prehistoric times. There are traces 
of human habitation which go back at least as far as 6000 B.C. 
The entire territory abounds with megalithic and paleolithic 
elements. The greatest concentration of megalithic monuments 
is in the central part, especially around Amman, but many are 
to be found in the north and south. The more the country is 
surveyed by archeologists, the larger grows the number of these 
relics, all of which would indicate a very extensive prehistoric 

Beginning with the explorations of Tristram, Schumacher and 
Conder in the latter part of the last century, through those of 
Glueck in the second quarter of the present century, literally 
thousands of prehistoric monuments in the forms of menhirs, 
dolmens and cromlechs have been discovered. The menhirs are 
single upright rough stones standing either alone or in rows or 
circles. Dolmens are composed of several rough stone slabs to form 
a complete unit; the most simple consists of two vertical slabs 
opposite each other and roofed over with a third horizontal 
slab. 1 They were sepulchral in character. The cromlech is simi- 
lar to the dolmen except that it is circular in shape and much 

1 "Three large blocks set on edge, at right angles to each other and sup- 
porting the massive stone laid across them which was from six to ten feet 
square." H. B. Tristram, The Land of Moab: Travels and Discoveries on 
the East Side of the Dead Sea and the Jordan (New York, 1873), 313. "Two 
great limestone slabs placed north-south, lengthwise on edge, 1.10 meters 
high, with another slab placed east-west horizontally over them . . . the top 
stone measures 1.70 by 1.20 by .20 meters." Nelson Glueck, "Explorations 
in Eastern Palestine, III," Annual of the American Schools of Oriental 
Research, XVIII-XIX, 216. 1939. 




Courtesy American Schools of Oriental Research 

Pre-historic rock drawing Kilwa 

Courtesy American Schools of Oriental Research 

Bolmen-Arqub Ibn Hadad 




't 1 ' ,:\ 

'V .;. ,;? '* i T 

' 2 ,*?'*' < G 

, . * i ^.' ^ .. ^ (* *Q 

, J > 

... v 





o M 



_p M Q 

c 2 

S *! 


< 43 




larger in size, some of them encompassing a very great area. 
While the cromlech was also very likely sepulchral, it might also 
have been used for public worship. 

A paleolithic civilization also flourished. Very primitive draw- 
ings of animals have been found deeply engraved on the sand- 
stone hills on the fringe of the desert near the Kilwa district. 
It can safely be asserted that as more detailed investigations and 
surveys of the various unknown sites are made, the picture of 
Transjordan's prehistoric society and its civilization will become 
clearer and more sharply drawn. 

Bronze Age 

At about 2400 B.C. the territory emerged into the Bronze Age. 
Practically all of Transjordan, from the extreme end of the Gulf 
o Aqaba to the Wadi Zarqa, was inhabited by peoples of an 
advanced sedentary agricultural civilization who were organized 
politically into small city-state units. The settlements, scattered 
throughout the length and breadth of the territory, must have had 
some protection against incursions from the desert. The country 
produced good grains, fine grapes and wine, and excellent cattle. 
This developed civilization flourished until about the end of the 
twentieth century B.C. It is possible that the peoples of the area 
were the Emim, "a people great and many and tall," or the Repha- 
im, who the Bible says (Deut., 2, 10-11) lived in that part of the 
territory which later became known as Moab, the Horites, who 
inhabited the area which was later known as Edom, and the Zam- 
zummim, who dwelt in the area which was to become Ammon. 

The immediate causes of the destruction and disappearance of 
the Bronze Age civilization are not clear but can perhaps be sur- 
mised. Centuries of growth and riches gave the inhabitants a 
false sense of security which lessened their vigilance and weak- 
ened their defenses. Internal inter-city rivalry, friction, and 
sometimes open warfare contributed substantially to lowering 
resistance to invaders who were tempted by the highly developed 
and prosperous territory. The entire civilization suddenly disap- 
peared in the 19th century B.C. The towns were destroyed and 
the fortifications broken down; the fields were neglected and the 
populations disintegrated. All traces of existence were lost for 
about six hundred years. The conquerors apparently did not 
extend their domain by rebuilding the villages and towns, roads 


and fortifications they had laid waste; they disappeared together 
with the people they had conquered. 

Iron Age 

At the beginning of the Iron Age, at about 1200 B.C., various 
sections of the territory were inhabited by a group of Semitic 
peoples who established themselves firmly by developing agricul- 
ture, trade, and even mining, and who built strong fortifications 
against invaders. From south to north they were the Edomites, 
well entrenched in the area between Aqaba and Wadi Hasa; the 
Moabites, between Wadi Hasa and Wadi Mojib; the Ammonites 
east of the north-south bank of the Wadi Zarqa; and the Amor- 
ites, between the Wadi Zarqa and the Yarmuk. Edom was well 
fortified and not subject to invasion by reason of its physical 
characteristics, fortifications and military strength, Moab's south- 
ern boundary was apparently also strong and not subject to 
breakthrough, and its eastern boundary was strongly fortified. 
Its northern border, however, was the scene of strife and struggle, 
as were the western and northern borders of Ammon. At times 
Moab extended its northern border far beyond the Wadi Mojib, 
as far as Wadi Hesban (Nahal Heshbon), and the Ammonites, 
at the height of their power, extended their sway westward 
beyond the Wadi Zarqa. The Moabites and the Ammonites were 
subject to pressure from their neighbors, the Amorites, whose 
king, Sihon, waged war against both; he pushed the Ammonites 
beyond the Wadi Zarqa, and the Moabites back to the Wadi 
Mojib. Moab and Ammon each claimed the territory bounded 
by the Mojib in the south, and the Wadi Zarqa in its south-north 
stretch in the east, Wadi Hesban in the north, and the River 
Jordan in the west. Moab was strongly fortified along the Mojib, 
and Ammon along the Zarqa, and the Amorites never attempted 
to press beyond these rivers. It would seem that the area between 
the Wadi Zarqa and the Yarmuk, perhaps the most fertile sector 
of the territory and the most coveted, was the least protected and 
therefore subject to invasion and conquest. 

General Development 

The general stage of development of the territory was well 
advanced. The "king's highway" was maintained by the different 



kingdoms whose lands it crossed. Water was precious, but it was 

sufficient not only for the needs of the inhabitants and their 
crops, but also for sale to passing caravans. Similarly, food was 
supplied, at a price, to merchants transiting the kingdoms. 

The languages used were Semitic, very much akin to Hebrew. 
The religions were based on local gods who were always com- 
peting with one another, but they all had the common character- 
istics of the Semitic deities. Ammon and Moab were very close 
indeed. Both worshipped Chemosh and both claimed (though 
apparently not in conflict) the territory taken from them by 
Sihon, king of the Amorites, which in turn was taken from Sihon 
by the Israelites. 

It must have been at the height of the achievement of these 
Semitic tribes that another Semitic people, the Israelites, made 
their appearance. Coming, very likely, as did other tribes, out of 
the desert, ready to become sedentary and with their eyes turned 
toward Canaan, the Israelites attempted to march through the 
settled communities of Transjordan. They first tried to cross 
Edom, but failed; the fortifications were too strong, and the 
Edomites, aided by the terrain, were strong enough to prevent 
the Israelites from pushing their way through. The same was 
true of Moab and Ammon. The northern border of Moab, how- 

Courtesy American Schools of Oriental Research 

Moabite border fortress Qasr abu al Kharaq 


ever, was the soft spot. Sihon, king of Heshbon, had pushed the 
Moabite boundary back to the Arnon, but the territory was not 
fortified and Sihon was not strong enough to resist a forced 
crossing. The Israelites challenged him. According to the Bibli- 
cal account, they were successful, and the war changed their 
objective from a crossing to a conquest. The Amorite territory 
was excellent for cattle-raising and those Israelite tribes who 
remained shepherds established themselves in Gilead, from the 
borders of Moab and the Mojib to the Yarmuk and even beyond. 
Henceforth Gilead became an integral part of the Israelite 
fatherland. It is commonly agreed that the passages in the Bible 
celebrating the wars and conquests of the territories in Trans- 
jordan are the oldest in Hebrew literature. 

Biblical Times 

For about three hundred years, according to the Bible, there 
was comparative quiet between the Israelites of Gilead and their 
neighbors to the east and west. Then tension developed. It 
would seem that the Ammonites decided to claim the territory 
that the Israelites had taken from Sihon. At that time the Israel- 
ites were disorganized and not yet consolidated into a united 
people; the Ammonites tried to take advantage of the situation 
and several times they were successful. The first major encounter 
between the Ammonites and the Gileadites took place under the 
leadership of Jephtah. From the correspondence between Jeph- 
tah and the king of the Ammonites, we learn that the Ammonites 
were demanding the return of that part of the territory which 
the Amorite king had taken from them, namely, the area between 
the Arnon and the Jabbok to the Jordan. Jephtah argued that 
the Israelites had not taken the territory either from the Moab- 
ites or the Ammonites, but from the Ainorites, and the Ammon- 
ites could therefore have no quarrel with the people of Gilead. 
The Lord God of Israel has given the Amorite territory to the 
Israelites and they possessed it; the Ammonites should possess 
whatever their god Chemosh had given them. Moreover, the 
Israelites had dwelt in Gilead for three hundred years and no 
attempt had ever been made to recover the territory. But the 
Ammonites were not to be dissuaded. They resorted to force and 
were defeated. But Jephtah's victory was not too decisive, and 
Nahash, king of the Ammonites, pressed the Gileadites, espe- 


daily the people of Jabesh Gilead, to the point of national 
humiliation. They were willing to come to terms with him, but 
Nahash's aim was more than the people of Jabesh. He chal- 
lenged all the Israelites. At least that is how the Biblical narrator 
had told the story: in reply to the offer of the people of Jabesh 
Gilead for a covenant under which they would serve him, Nahash 
said: "On this condition will I make it with you, that all your 
right eyes be put out; and I will lay it for a reproach upon all 
Israel." (I Samuel, 11, 2) 

It is significant that the Biblical historian made the protection 
of Gilead as an integral part of Israel the great cause of Isiaelite 
national unity and the emergence of the first national unifier, 
Saul. Incensed at the threatened humiliation which Nahash was 
attempting to impose on Israel, Saul, a plowman, left his oxen, 
organized an army, defeated Nahash, and restored Israel's 
supremacy in Transjordan. This victory made Saul the great 
national hero and led to the kingship of a united Israel. 

David's Conquest 

But Saul's victory over Nahash did not settle the Ammonite 
question. Although the relations between David, Saul's successor, 
and Nahash had been friendly, the latter's son Hanun challenged 
David by insulting the messengers David sent to console Hanun 
on the death of his father. David accepted the challenge and 
sent his general, Joab, to war against Rabbah, the capital city 
of Ammon. After a long siege, Joab captured the lower city, the 
"city of water," and advised David to come and complete the 
conquest personally. David captured Rabbah and set the crown 
of the Ammonite king upon his own head; and he reduced the 
other Ammonite cities. The Ammonites never again appeared 
as a strong organized element in the history of Gilead. David, 
the Great Wanior, extended the boundaries of the Israelite king- 
dom in all directions and succeeded in spreading his power over 
Ammon, Moab and Edom, but unlike Gilead which was an 
integral part of the Kingdom of David, these three states retained 
their kingdom status and were only required to pay an annual 

Now Transjordan had triple significance. It was an important 
agricultural-pastoral settlement. It contained important mineral 
resources, such as copper and iron. And finally, it was a major 


highway of commerce connecting by land and sea the Far East 
and Arabia with Syria in the north, Israel and Judah in the west, 
and Egypt by way of Sinai in the southwest. Solomon's reign 
over the United Kingdom was a period of consolidation of the 
conquests of his father, David. Three of the twelve administra- 
tive chiefs of the Kingdom, who provided him with all his house- 
hold needs, each for one month of the year, were stationed in 
Gilead. Gilead thus represented one-fourth of the Kingdom. 
Ammon, Moab and Edom remained tributaries. In the Arabah, 
Solomon worked the copper mines and smelting furnaces; in 
Ezion-Geber, beside Elath on the Gulf of Aqaba, which was in 
the land of Edom, he built a navy, whose sailors were trained by 
the experienced seamen of Hiram, king of Tyre, and whose ships 
carried on trade with the Orient. 

After Solomon's death, about 937 B.C., the Kingdom was divid- 
ed into two parts, Judah and Israel. Gilead became part of 
Israel and Moab was made a tributary to Israel; Edom remained 
tributary to Judah. Some sixty years later Gilead was being 
pressed in the north by the kings of Aram, who had established 
themselves in Ramoth Gilead, and in the south, where Moab had 
pushed across the Arnon as far as Madeba but had been repelled 
by Omri, king of Israel. Ahab, Omri's son, called on Jehoshaphat, 
king of Judah; he reminded him that Ramoth Gilead was Jewish 
territory, and asked him to help restore it to Israel. Jehoshaphat 
came to his aid, but the attempt was a failure, and Ahab fell at 
Ramoth Gilead. 

At this time Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, decided to renew the 
naval activities of Solomon, which had apparently come to a 
complete standstill, and he built a fleet at Ezion to sail to Ophir 
and Tarshish, but the ships never set out on their journey, for 
they "were broken at Ezion Geber." 2 

Mesha's Revolt 

Mesha, king of Moab, who was paying annual tribute to Israel 
(according to the Bible, 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams and 

2 Omri attempted to divert the trade coming up from Aqaba to the 
Phoenician coast by way of Samaria. Hence the new capital he established, 
his policy of friendship toward the western coastal powers, and his opening 
the country to Phoenician religion and culture. Aram in the norm was 
threatened by this possible diversion and it pressed on the Israelite king- 
dom, particularly at Ramoth Gilead, to prevent its realization. 


their wool), revolted against the House of Omri at about 850 B.C. 
According to Mesha, he restored Madeba to Moab and captured 
some of the cities which were inhabited by Israelites of the tribe 
of Gad. After listing some of the well-known cities in the area 
between Arnon and Jabbok, Mesha proclaimed that he had 
added one hundred cities to Moab. 3 

The domination of the Omri dynasty over Moab was broken, 
according to Mesha, with the help of his god, Chemosh. Not 
satisfied with his victories over the king of Israel, Mesha extended 
the boundaries of Moab almost to its original limits, and in doing 
so became a threat to his neighbors to the west and to the south. 
Jehoram, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and the 
king of Edom went to war against him. Here the characteristic 
problem of the area caught up with the allies: they were trapped 
with their armies in one of the arid valleys and did not have suffi- 

3 The story of Mesha's revolt is recounted on the so-called Moabite Stone. 
This is perhaps one of the most interesting documents of antiquity in this 
part of the world. The stone is of black basalt, three feet, 8.5 inches high, 
two feet, 3.5 inches wide, and one foot, 1.5 inches thick. The inscription 
that King Mesha had engraved on it consists of thirty-four lines in ancient 
Hebrew characters. The stone was first noticed in the ruins of Dibon in 
1868 by F. A. Klein of the Prussian Church Missionary Society. When the 
French Biblical authority, Charles Clermont-Ganneau tried to buy it the 
following year from the bedouins, they broke it up into many parts, each 
owner of a part hoping no doubt to obtain a goodly sum of money. Only 
about twenty pieces were recovered, but fortunately an impression had been 
made of the inscription before it was broken. The stone was put together 
again and is today in the Louvre hi Paris. The English translation of the 
inscription reads: 

I am Mesha son of Chemoshmelech, king of Moab, the Dibonite. 
My father reigned over Moab for thirty years, and reign did I after 
my father. And I have made this high place for Chemosh in Krhh 
on account of the deliverance of Mesha, because he saved me from 
all the kings and because he let me see my pleasure on all that hated 
me. Omri was king of Israel, and he afflicted Moab many days, because 
Chemosh was angry with his land. And his son succeeded him; and 
he also said "I will afflict Moab." In my days he spoke thus. But I 
saw my pleasure on him and on his house, and Israel perished with 
everlasting destruction. Now Omri had taken posession of all the 
Pa]nd of Madeba, and dwelt in it during his days and half the days 
of his sons [or his son], forty years; but restore it did Chemosh in 
my days. And I built Baalmeon and I made in it the reservoir and 
I built Kiriathen. And the men of Gad had dwelt in the land of 
Ataroth from of old, and built for himself had the king of Israel 
Ataroth. And I fought against the city and took it and slew all the 
(people of] the city, a sight unto Chemosh and to Moab. And I 
Drought back from there the altar hearth of Daudoh [?] and dragged 
it before Chemosh in Kerioth. And I settled the men of Srn in it, 
and the men of Mhrth. And Chemosh said to me: "Go take Nebo 
against Israel." And I went by night and fought against it from break 



Mesha stone 


cient water to continue fighting. 4 The Moabites had counted on 
this and had apparently not built their defenses too strongly. 
Suddenly, however, water was discovered streaming down in one 
of the hidden valleys and the battle soon turned in favor of the 
allies. The description of what the victors did to the region 
reveals its basic aspects: "And they beat down the cities; and on 
every good piece of land they cast every man his stone, and filled 
it; and they stuffed all the fountains of water, and felled all the 
good trees; until there was left only Kir-Hareseth with the stones 
of the wall thereof; so the slingers encompassed it and smote it." 
The besieged Moabites, in danger of annihilation, were desper- 
ate. Chemosh, their god, was angry, and he had to be appeased, 
but in such a way that the enemies would be thoroughly fright- 
ened and would depart from the city, Mesha "then took his 
eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him 
for a burnt offering upon the wall and there came great wrath 
upon Israel; and they departed from him and returned to their 
own land." (II Kings, 3, 27). 

The continuous warfare among the kingdoms of Transjordan 
and against their neighbors was the beginning of the end. Again 

of dawn until noon, and took it and slew all of them, seven thousand 
men and boys, and women and girls and maidservants; for I had 
devoted it to Ashtar-Chemosh. And I took thence the altar hearths 
of Jehovah and dragged them before Chemosh. Now the king of 
Israel had built Jahaz, and the abode in it while he fought against 
me. But Chemosh drove him out from before me. And I took two 
hundred men of Joab, all chiefs, and led them against Jahaz and took 
it to add to Dibon. I built Krhh the wall of the woods and the wall 
of the mound. And I built its gates, and I built its towers. And I 
built the king's palace, and made the enclosures of the [. . * for watjers 
in the midst of the city. And there was no cistern in the midst of the 
city in Krhh. And I said to all the people: "Make for yourselves, 
every one a cistern in his house." And I cut out the cutting for Krhh 
with the help of prisoners of Israel. I built Aroer and made the 
highway on the Arnon. I built Beth-Bamoth, for it was pulled down. 
I built Bezer, for ruins. . . . Dibon fifty, for all Dibon was obedient. 
And I reigned over one hundred in the cities which I added to the 
land. I built Madeba and Beth-Diblathen and Beth-Baalmeon, and 
took thither the [herdsmen] . , . the sheep of the land. And as for 
Horonen, there dwelt in it the so[n] of De[d]an, And De[d]an said 
. . . Chemosh said to me: "Go down, fight against Horonaim"; and 
I went down and . . . and Chemosh [resto]red it in my days. And 
I ... thence ten [?] 

4 In telling this story, Josephus explained: "They were in distress for 
want of water for the cattle and for the army, from the mistake of their 
roads by the guides that conducted them." (Antiquities, IX, iii, 1) 


security deteriorated, trade declined, agriculture broke down, 
and the territory was ripe for invaders. 

End of Period 

Repeated attempts by the kings of Israel to restore Ramoth 
Gilead failed, and Hazael, king of Aram, came down almost to 
the Arnon. The Edomites revolted against Jehoram, king of 
Judah (851-843 B.C.), and named a king of their own, and 
although Jehoram went out against the Edomites with captains 
and chariots, he did not succeed in completely restoring his 
position. King Amaziah (796-767 B.C.) fought the Edomites in 
the Valley of Salt and took their capital Selaa and renamed it 
Yokthiel. But during the reign of King Ahaz (737-720 B.C.) the 
Edomites allied themselves with Aram, and with the assistance 
of the Aramean king Rezin they succeeded in driving the Jews 
out of Elath. 

The end of the period was rapidly approaching. The Assyrians 
under Tiglath-pileser III (734 B.C.) established three pashaliks 
in Transjordan. However, when the hold of the Assyrians weak- 
ened, the Ammonites reappeared and Baalis, their king, extended 
his rule to Gilead, only to be overwhelmed by the Babylonians 
under Nebuchadnezzar who completely destroyed Rabbath 
Ammon and the other Ammonite cities of the region. In the 
sixth century B.C. Transjordan once more disappeared as a 
region of settlement. All signs of sedentary life vanished and the 
cities and towns became the roaming fields, for the wandering 
nomads. What had befallen the region at the end of the nine- 
teenth century B.C. befell it again in the sixth century. 

While agriculturally and commercially Transjordan was rather 
advanced, in the realm of creative spirit there is little of note 
except perhaps the doubtful contribution of the Mesha Stone. 
The only figure of majestic grandeur was Elijah the Tishbite, 
who came from Gilead. Elijah occupies a prominent place in the 
Bible because of his prophetic utterances on social justice, right- 
eousness, truth and religious devotion. 

Chapter III 


Three Settlement Elements 

the entire Transjordan territory from Aqaba to the 
Syrian border was overrun by nomads from the desert. 
At about the third century three settlement elements appear 
which decisively affected the territory's development. These 
differed from one another in character and each in turn exerted 
a different influence. The first was the Jewish element. Return- 
ing exiles from Babylonia settled in that part of the territory 
which was originally inhabited by Jews, namely, southern Gilead. 
Together with Jews who had remained in the area all the time 
and survived the nomadic invasions, and a number who came 
from the western side of the Jordan, they founded closely settled 
communities in what later became known in Greek as the Perea. 
Jews also settled in the non-Jewish cities of Transjordan, within 
which they formed their own little communities. 

The second was the Greek element, composed mostly of veter- 
ans of Alexander the Great's campaigns in that part of the world. 
They and some later Greek immigrants established several cities 
which subsequently emerged as the League of the Ten Cities, 
known as Decapolis. The checkered career of these cities reflects 
to a very large extent the multi-aspect character of the territory. 
The Decapolis cities were concentrated in the northern sector; 
the most celebrated were perhaps Philadelphia, the ancient 
Rabbath Ammon and the modern Amman, and Gerasa, The 
Decapolis was responsible for the Greek, and perhaps more for 
the later Roman, cultural influences on Transjordan. 

The third element were Arab tribes, the Nabateans who origi- 



nated from the desert and whose first contacts with Transjordan 
were doubtless in the form of invasions against the settled popu- 
lations. After a considerable period of time, these tribes aban- 
doned their desert ways, became sedentary and built up one of 
the most fascinating cultures in the history of the Near East. The 
Nabateans settled mainly in the south, in the area corresponding 
to ancient Edom and stretching into parts of Moab; their capital 
and most celebrated city was Petra. 

The history of the territory during the next four hundred 
years was determined by these three elements, as well as by devel- 
opments in Judea, Syria and Egypt, and ultimately by Rome. 

The Jewish Forces 

In the latter part of the sixth century B.C. some of the Judean 
exiles in Babylonia began to return to their homeland. After 
Jerusalem and its environs were rebuilt, the settlement began to 
expand into the countryside. With security improved and new 
waves of exiles continuously coming, many of the returning Jews, 
especially those who considered themselves members of the tribe 
of Benjamin, commenced to settle in Gilead, that is, the area 
between the Arnon and the Yarmuk, but most especially in the 
southern part, between the Arnon and the Jabbok. The Jews 
who had never left the area welcomed the returners, and from 
time to time they were joined by other arrivals from Judea. 
However, since most of the country was overrun by bedouins and 
the center of Jewish settlement, in Judea, was relatively distant, 
the number of those who braved the danger to settle in Trans- 
Jordan was decidedly small. Attacks by marauders from the 
desert were frequent, and there was constant harassment from 
settled neighbors. On the other hand, the sparse settlement of 
the territory as a whole made it an inviting area for foreign 
elements in search of new territories, and inevitably led to clashes 
with the returning exiles. 

As had the earliest Israelite settlers in Gilead, the newly 
returned exiles would call on their fellow Jews on the other side 
of the Jordan for assistance and protection. The character, mag- 
nitude and effectiveness of the responses to the pleas depended 
not only on conditions in Judea proper, but also on relations 
between Judea and its neighbors both near and far. Yet in spite 
of all the vicissitudes, the Jews seem to have held on to the 


central part of Transjordan throughout this period with tenacity 
and consistency. 

The Hellenistic Element 

About 330 B.C. practically all of Judea, Syria and Transjordan 
came under the sway of Alexander the Great of Macedon. With 
him came great numbers of Greek soldiers and others in search 
of new lands of settlement and cultural conquest, and they 
brought with them the influence of Greek culture and civiliza- 
tion. Transjordan which came to be known in Greek as Coele- 
Syria and especially the more fertile sector in northern Gilead 
and the area north of the Yarmuk, was the ideal location for 
implanting and developing Hellenism. 

With the sudden death of Alexander in 323 B.C., the Mace- 
donian empire fell apart, and the conqueror's dominions were 
divided among his generals. After a prolonged struggle and open 
warfare, it was agreed in 302 B.C. that Seleukus would rule Syria, 
including Judea and Transjordan, and Ptolemy would rule 
Egypt* Antioch was the center of the Syrian kingdom, and 
Alexandria the center of the Egyptian. Both kingdoms were, of 
course, Hellenistic in character and objective. A year later, how- 
ever, Ptolemy claimed Judea and Transjordan, and for the next 
hundred years, with some interruptions, the territory was under 
the rule of the Ptolemies. The struggle between the Seleucids, 
the successors of Seleukus, and the Ptolemies affected the history 
of Transjordan until it came under the sway of Rome. 

Meanwhile, the veterans of Alexander's campaign had estab- 
lished towns in the area which assumed all the political, linguis- 
tic, cultural and religious characteristics of the Greek cities. The 
Seleucids as well as the Ptolemies consciously strove to Hellenize 
the territory under their rule. They considered themselves the 
heirs of Alexander, whose idea was to merge east and west under 
Greek culture, and they made strenuous efforts to encourage and 
aid the Greek settlers increase the number of their cities, to 
which they gave the political organization of the Greek polis by 
granting them many of the rights of self-governing units. 

As these cities grew and expanded, especially during the 
Roman period, they became known as the Decapolis. Except for 
Scytopolis (Beth Shean) which was located on the western side 
of the Jordan, and Damascus, which was only periodically and 











mostly in an honorary sense a member of the League, all the 
cities were on the east side of the Jordan, in the area between 
the Arnon and north of the Yarmuk opposite the Sea of Galilee. 

The Greek League Cities 

Although the Greek settlement was called Decapolis, it in- 
cluded at times as many as eighteen cities. The most prominent 
and perhaps the most permanent, beside Scytopolis, were Pella, 
Dion, Gerasa, Gadara, Hippos, Abila, Canatha, and sometimes 
Philadelphia. The ruins of some of these are admired to this 
very day. The Decapolis was not apparently a political or a legal 
concept; the League grew out of common interests and common 
character, and not all the cities enjoyed the same status at the 
same time. They were not contiguous but were apparently laid 
out as fortresses to protect the trade routes. For years the ports 
of entry were in Phoenicia; the route went by way of Samaria to 
Scytopolis, a major depot on the western side of the Jordan; from 
there, after crossing the Jordan, it branched off into three roads, 
one leading from Hippos to Damascus, another from Gadara 
over Canatha to the Hauran, and the third from Pella over Dion 
and Gerasa to Philadelphia. These were the routes over which 
goods from Greece were shipped to Egypt, Arabia and India, and 
over which goods travelled in the opposite direction. 

As already mentioned, the cities developed at different periods 
and had different degrees of political organization and status at 
various times in their history, but generally speaking each 
enjoyed considerable autonomy and had jurisdiction over its 
outlying districts; in a sense, they were city-states on the Greek 
model. They had their own councils and the right of coinage; 
from time to time they made alliances with one another or several 
joined together for offensive as well as for defensive purposes. 
They must have had authority over the maintenance and protec- 
tion of the viaducts which brought water in some instances from 
great distances. Their major problem was protection from the 
nomads, not only to prevent them from invading the cities but 
from interfering with the flow of trade. 

The growth of the Greek cities and their Hellenistic culture 
became a threat to the Jewish communities in their midst and 
to the Jewish settlements in the Perea; and, as their expansion 
continued, to the Nabateans as well. 


The Desert Arabs 

The Nabatean tribes, it would seem, had made their incursions 
into Edom as early as the sixth century B.C. They had appar- 
ently pushed the few remaining Edomites out, forcing them to 
move over into that part of the territory on the west known as 
the northern Negev, as far as Hebron, which part of Judea later 
became known as Idumea. The Nabateans were probably Arabs 
and their spoken language was an early Arabic dialect. But their 
written language, as is evidenced from their monuments and 
coins, was Aramaic, a sort of lingua franca of the time. Even after 
they settled down in Edom and established or re-established Petra 
as their capital and trade center, they did not engage either in 
agriculture or cattle-raising. Primarily caravan masters, they con- 
trolled the trade routes the south-north route from Arabia to 
Damascus, and the east-west route from Mesopotamia to Egypt 
and Judea. The Nabateans were tent dwellers, and Petra was at 
first primarily a caravan center. With the passage of time, how- 
ever, they became fully sedentary; they developed their agricul- 
tural practice to a high degree, producing not only for their use 
but also for export; they became cattle raisers and exported to 
Phoenicia and Judea. Petra soon became the most outstanding 
commercial city of the world, an important depot for the con- 
vergent caravans and a well-organized market. The Nabateans 
became dwellers in stone houses which they carved out of the 
native solid rock. Their new mode of life necessitated a highly 
complex system of water collection, preservation, and utilization, 
for drinking purposes and for artificial irrigation. It also made 
necessary an efficient method of terracing to preserve the water 
and the soil. All this was achieved to a very remarkable degree, 
and some of the ruins of Petra testify to the ingenuity of the 
Nabateans and their advanced stage of civilization. Such a degree 
of technical development presupposes considerable social matur- 
ity and cultural growth. What made these tribes from the Ara- 
bian desert so different from the many others who had preceded 
them is a mystery for which no satisfactory explanation has yet 
been found. 

Nabatean Society and Regime 

The Nabateans were flexiblea basic necessity for any group 
of people engaged in trade-and displayed considerable ability 

36 A OF 

to adjust to new conditions and influences. Their culture and 
religion were originally Semitic, but after contact with Hellenism 
and Rome their religion, architecture and political organization 
contained Greco-Roman elements. However, no traces have ever 
been found of literary Nabatean achievement. 

There is no specific detailed information about the Nabateans 
prior to the Hellenistic period. In 312 B.C. Antigonus Cyclops, 
one of Alexander's generals who ruled Syria, attempted to cap- 
ture Petra and gain control of the trade routes. He sent one of 
his favorite commanders with four thousand foot soldiers and six 
hundred cavalry against the city. At first the sortie was successful, 
but the Nabateans, who had abandoned the city to the conquer- 
ors, attacked the victorious army as it was returning to its base 
and routed it. Antigonus later sent his son Demetrius against the 
Nabateans, but without success. Neither is there any accurate 
information about the early political organization of the Naba- 

Courtesy American Schools of Oriental Research 

Nabatean tomb al Bared 


When the whole of Transjordan came under the control of 
the Ptolemies of Egypt who more or less reached some kind of 
accord with the Seleucids, Ptolemy Philadelphia built the city 
of Philadelphia on the site of the ancient Rabbath Ammon, as a 
commercial center to compete with Petra. His aim was to isolate 
that city and make the Nabateans dependent on Egypt. This 
the latter effectively resisted, and not only did they threaten the 
Decapolis cities, but they consciously encouraged the Seleucids 
to war against the Ptolemies. Probably for similar reasons the 
Nabateans showed sympathy for the Jewish position in central 
Transjordan, as both feared and opposed the growing power of 
the Decapolis cities under Ptolemaic protection. 

In 218 B.C. Antiochus III of Syria went to war against Ptolemy 
IV of Egypt for control of Judea and Goele-Syria. The Nabateans 
fought with him and helped defeat Ptolemy. Antiochus occupied 
all the Decapolis cities down to and including Philadelphia, 
which he fortified. 

At this stage the Nabatean political organization became that 
of a monarchy, but the powers and duties of the king were lim- 
ited by the general advanced social order. To judge from the 
reports of later classical writers (Strabo, 63 B.C.-21 A.D.; Dio- 
dorus Siculus, 1st century B.C.), the Nabateans were very indus- 
trious. Wealth and prosperity were civic virtues and duties; a 
penalty was imposed on a man whose profits decreased, and 
conversely, honor was bestowed on the man whose profits in- 
creased. They had no slaves and their personal needs were served 
either by relatives or by each other, and this applied even to the 
kings. Everyone had to participate in performing all public 
services, including street cleaning, policing, water maintenance, 
etc. There were no social classes and no family distinctions. The 
king had to submit a periodic report of his activities and of 
public expenditure. Strabo declared that the Nabateans had 
excellent laws and regulations, and since each man was aware of 
his duties and responsibilities and thoroughly acquainted with 
the laws, they all lived in peace. The law courts were crowded 
with foreign litigants disputing among themselves, but they were 
never visited by Nabateans. This is no doubt an idealized picture, 
but it reflects the admiration the Romans had for the Nabateans 
and their institutions. 

The original Nabatean gods were Dushara, the Sun God, and 
Allat, mother of the gods, and Chabon, the virgin mother of 


Dushara. Later, when they came in contact with Hellenism, the 
Greek gods and goddesses were included in their temples in 
modified form, and the original Semitic gods and goddesses 
assumed characteristics of Greco-Roman religion. 

Ndbatean Security 

In addition to their capital, Petra, the Nabateans had a num- 
ber of other cities, as well as smaller towns, all joined together 
by trade routes which were covered by a complex system of watch- 
towers and fortifications. They had posts guarding the forts, as 
well as frontier fortresses for protection against marauders. Their 
most outstanding achievements were the architectural marvels 
of Petra, perhaps the most fascinating and astounding of all east- 
ern antiquities both in concept and in attainment, and their intri- 
cate water system. The very existence of Petra, as well as the level 
of agricultural productivity throughout the Nabatean kingdom 
was due to the ability to collect practically every available drop 
of water and to preserve it in the canals, conduits, cisterns, 
viaducts and reservoirs which were unique engineering achieve- 
ments, but the social organization to keep the system in good 
operating order was of even greater importance. The ability of 
the Nabateans to make long-range plans, plus their sense of civic 
responsibility and cooperation may explain their general degree 
of development and their prosperous existence for hundreds of 

While the defeat of the Ptolemies at the hands of the Seleucids 
may at first have been considered by the Jews and the Nabateans 
as an easing of the yoke of the Ptolemies and the pressures of the 
Decapolis cities, after a time the Seleucids became even more 
oppressive to the Jews and threatening to the Nabateans. The 
latter were definitely bent, in the first half of the second century 
B.C., on extending their control to the east, west and north. 
When the Hasmoneans under Judah Maccabee rebelled against 
the Seleucids in 168 B.C., they had the full sympathy of the 
Nabateans. As at the time of Saul, the Jews in the Perea had 
appealed to the Jetfis in Judea for help. Their oppressors were 
both in the north and in the south the Decapolis cities, some of 
the Arab tribes around Madeba, and the neo-Ammonites around 

The great force in Transjordan which Judah Maccabee had to 







face was the army of the Ammonites commanded by Timotheus, 
who had marshaled many forces from neighboring tribes, as well 
as the Arab tribe of Yambri around Madeba. Because he did not 
have an army strong enough to meet Timotheus in open battle, 
Judah Maccabee engaged in local skirmishes to weaken and 
demoralize Timotheus' forces and reduce the threat to Jewish 
Perea. After he captured the city of Jazer, Judah returned to 
Jerusalem. But Timotheus was not ready to give up. He joined 
other armies in Gilead and attacked the Jews there. Judah and 
his brother Jonathan, with eight thousand soldiers, went to the 
assistance of their brethren in Gilead, and they captured Basra, 
burned Ramoth-Gilead (As-Salt) and other fortified cities, and 
captured and burned the city of Carnaim and its temple. In spite 
of these impressive victories, the Jews in the area were too few 
in number to be left among their enemies and Judah gathered all 
the Jews of Gilead, men, women and children, and their posses- 
sions, and took them to Judea; he closed his Transjordan cam* 
paign, which had lasted from 165 to 163 B.C. 

After Judah's death (160 B.C.), his brothers Jonathan and 
Simon continued their war against the Syrians and sent another 
brother, Johanan, to the Nabateans for help. The Yambri Arabs 
of Madeba laid an ambush for Johanan and his companions and 
killed them and plundered all they had with them. This cruel 
act could not be allowed to go unpunished. A marriage celebra- 
tion between a Yambri leader and the daughter of an illustrious 
member of another Arab tribe from the city of Gabata was to 
take place, Jonathan and Simon went to Madeba where they 
intercepted the celebrating crowd and avenged their brother's 

Perea Fully Jewish 

The success of the Hasmoneans in gaining independence for 
Judea was aided by the recognition of Rome and by a treaty of 
alliance between Jerusalem and Rome, as well as by the interne- 
cine struggle of the Seleucids* The Jews re-established them- 
selves in the Perea. Demetrius, king of Syria, in a letter to 
Jonathan, now at the head of the Jewish state, declared that 
Perea was a toparchy adjoining Judea, under the control of the 

Later, after Antiochus had defeated Demetrius and become 


king of Syria, his general Trypho came with an army to Trans- 
Jordan and attacked Gilead. Jonathan, who was allied with 
Antiochus, was betrayed by Trypho and was slain at Basca, a 
village in Transjordan. Thus two of the five Hasinonean 
brothers lost their lives in Transjordan. The mantle of the Has- 
monean leadership fell on the shoulders of the last of the 
brothers, Simon. But by this time the independence of Judea 
was fully recognized by the Syrian kings. 

The Yambri, who had been punished for the murder of Jona- 
than, were still a threat to the Jews of Transjordan and it was 
decided that they must be eliminated and the Perea flank at 
Madeba protected. John Hyrcanus (134-104 B.C.), son of Simon, 
took advantage of the death of Antiochus, king of Syria, and 
undertook an expedition against Madeba which he captured after 
a six months' siege, not without great hardships to his own army. 

Achievements of Alexander Janneus 

So far the Hasmoneans had succeeded in establishing the Jews 
in the Perea; they had overcome the Ammonites around Phila- 
delphia and the Yambri around Madeba, but there were still 
elements in some of the cities of Moab hostile to the Jews. The 
main opposition, however, came from the Decapolis cities in 
ancient Gilead. The task of reducing these cities as well as over- 
coming the other elements of opposition in Transjordan was 
undertaken by Simon's grandson Alexander Janneus (103-76 B.C.) 
and had serious repercussions on the relations between Judea 
and the Nabateans. 

At about 100 B.C. the Seleucids in Syria became so weak as a 
result of internal dissension that for all intents and purposes they 
were no longer a force in Transjordan, nor were the Ptolemies 
strong enough to take their place. Alexander Janneus saw the 
opportunity to extend the Judean state in all directions. He 
could recover not only the territory originally claimed by Judea, 
but could gain a substantial control over the trade routes across 
Samaria from Phoenicia to Transjordan, and in Transjordan, 
through the Decapolis, the trade going to Damascus as well as 
that going to Elath by way of the Arabah. Judea already con- 
trolled Idumea, which meant that it controlled trade to Egypt 
by way of Gaza. Alexander Janneus' plans clashed head-on with 
the ambitions of the Nabateans who had expanded eastward 


toward the Euphrates and westward into the Negev toward Gaza, 
and who aspired for mastery over the route to Damascus as well 
as the city itself. 

Clashes with Nabateans 

The Hasmonean began to press methodically on the Decapolis 
cities. His first objective was Gadara (Um Qeis) southeast of 
the Sea of Galilee on the Yarmuk River and the strong fortress 
nearby, Amathus. From there he turned southward to the cities 
of Gilead and Moab. The first indirect clash with the Nabateans 
took place at Gaza. Aretas II, their king, promised to help the 
non-Jewish people of Gaza iit their resistance to Alexander, but 
before the aid could arrive, the city had fallen. To stop Alex- 
ander from gaining control of Coele-Syria, Aretas' successor, 
Obedas, set an ambush in one of the rugged valleys of Gilead. 
Alexander, who was then having serious difficulties with the 
Pharisees at home, suffered a disastrous and humiliating defeat 
and "hardly escaped with his life" to Jerusalem. He had to 
surrender to Obedas all the cities of Moab, Gilead and the 
Hauran. However, when conditions in Jerusalem became more 
favorable, he returned to Transjordan and from 83 B.C. to 80 
B.C. he recaptured all the cities of Moab and Gilead and then 
turned to the Decapolis. He took Dion, Hippos, Pella, Gerasa, 
Abila, and the naturally fortified city of Gamla; in Moabite 
territory he took Heshbon and Madeba. At the southern end of 
the Moabite country, on the Mojib River, he built the fortress 
Macharus to hold back the Nabateans. 

Alexander Janneus thus gained a hold over a substantial sec- 
tion of the trade route, the old ''king's highway," from the Wadi 
Mojib almost into Damascus, for he had also occupied great areas 
to the north of Gilead, He was able to keep the Nabateans out 
of most of the Decapolis cities and he dominated sections of the 
road from the Arabah to the Mediterranean. 

The Nabateans, on their part, also saw the greatest expansion 
of their kingdom; King Aretas III pushed on toward Damascus in 
an east-north direction around Gilead and gained control of 
Damascus itself. He pushed eastward into Mesopotamia and 
below Gaza expanded westward toward Egypt. 

The Perea which, according to Josephus, stretched from Pella 
to Macharus, was entirely Jewish, while most of the Decapolis 


cities had come under Jewish control. It would seem that under 
Alexander Janneus, Hasmonean power extended to its widest 
limits, as did the Nabatean power under Aretas III. The Ptole- 
mies also tried to extend their dominion, but with little success. 
Soon, however, both Hasraoneans and Nabateans were destined 
to become involved with the rising power of Rome. 





Tobiad Principality 

A ruin today called Araq al Amir (the Prince's Cliff), located 
in Wadi Sir in the Balqa district about twelve miles west-south- 
west of Amman, is the remains of a Jewish principality founded 
by a man called Tobias, and which came to an end in 176 B.C. 
The origin of the Tobiad principality is somewhat nebulous. 
Some scholars maintain that it was established in Transjordan 
prior to the destruction of the First Temple and that the Tobiads 
returned to Transjordan with the first exiles; while others main- 
tain that the Tobiads never went into exile at all. Very little is 
heard about the Tobiads, however, until the Ptolemaic period. 

From a variety of sources, especially a papyrus discovered in 
Egypt comparatively recently, it is learned that the Tobiads were 
tax agents for the Ptolemies, that their principality was in Trans- 
jordan in the ancient land of Ammon, and that they had a small 
army of their own, no doubt to protect them against desert brig- 
ands. The most outstanding remains of the ruling house still 
extant is the inscription of the word Tobias (in Hebrew) on one 
of the walls of the rooms. According to some authorities this 
inscription dates from about 700 B.C.; others believe it to be 
much older. 

The last of the Transjordanian Tobiads, Hyrcanus, the son of 
Joseph, who was the son of Tobias, was the Ptolemie's last tax 
agent. Though he ruled the principality, he lived at first in Jeru- 
salem with his father and brothers. However, when the political 
situation changed and his father and brothers went over to the 
Seleucids of Syria, Hyrcanus, who alone remained loyal to Ptol- 
emy and whose relations with his family had consequently become 
strained, left Jerusalem and went to live in his principality, where 
he built a fortress which he called Tsur (Rock). In Greek it was 
known as Turos (Tyre in English) hence the modern name of 
Wadi Sir. 

Josephus gives the following account, which was apparently 
based on some Greek sources. "However, Hyrcanus determined 
not to return to Jerusalem any more, he seated himself beyond 
Jordan and was at perpetual war with the Arabs, and slew many 
of them, and took many of them captives. He also erected a 
strong castle, and built it entirely of white stone to the very root, 
and had animals of a prodigious magnitude engraven upon it. 


He also drew around it a great and deep canal of water. He also 
made many caves of many furlongs in length by hollowing a rock 
that was over against him, and then he made large rooms in 
them, some for feasting, and some for sleeping and living in. He 
introduced also a vast quantity of waters, which ran along it, and 
which were very delightful and ornamental in the court but still, 
he made the entrances to the mouths of the caves so narrow that 
no more than one person could enter them at once; and the 
reason he built them after that manner was a good one; it was 
for his own preservation, lest he should be besieged by his breth- 
ren, and run the hazard of being caught by them. Moreover, he 
built courts of greater magnitude than ordinary, which he 
adorned with vastly large gardens. And when he had brought the 
place to this state he named it Tyre. This place is between 
Arabia and Judea, beyond Jordan not far from the country of 
Heshbon, and he ruled over those parts for seven years." 

Hyrcanus miscalculated. He had hoped that the Ptolemies 
would regain control of the area, but the Seleucids persisted. As 
long as the king of Syria made no effort to take over the country, 
Hyrcanus ruled his principality with a strong hand and terrorized 
the Arabs of the desert. But when he heard that Antiochus Epi- 
phanus had succeeded to the throne he became frightened, lest 
the Arabs betray him to Antiochus, and he committed suicide 
(176 B.C.). The Tobiad principality was taken over by Antiochus. 

As regards the remains of the principality, some famous travel- 
ers have declared that from an archeological point of view there 
could be no doubt that Araq al Amir is one of the most interest- 
ing ruins east of the Jordan. 1 

ijosephus, Antiquities, XII, iv, 11; C. R. Conder, Survey of Eastern 
Palestine (London, 1889), I, 66-67; Laurence Oliphant, The Land of Gilead 
with Excursions in the Lebanon (London, 1880), 278; B. Maisler, "The 
Tobiad Family" (Hebrew), Tarbitz, XII, 110, 1940; Michael Avi-Yonah, 
Geographiyah Historith shel Eretz Yisrael (Hebrew: Historical Geography 
of the Land of Israel), 26; Samuel Klein, Ever Hayarden Hayehudi (Hebrew: 
Jewish Transjordan), (Vienna, 1925), 1-2; Joseph Klausner, Historiyah shel 
Hasheni (Hebrew: History of the Second Temple), (Jerusalem, 


Chapter IV 

Alexander Janneus' Heirs 

KING ALEXANDER JANNEUS, the greatest of the Has- 
moneans, who extended the boundaries of the Jewish state 
to their greatest extent since the days of King Solomon, 
died in 74 B.C., interestingly enough, in Transjordan, in the 
vicinity of the fortress of Ragaba. He left behind his wife Alex- 
andra and two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. Of the three, the 
Queen was the strongest, the most determined, and possessed the 
greatest tact. In spite of the bitter antagonism which her hus- 
band had aroused in various elements of the people of Judea, she 
succeeded in winning them all over to her side. She was con- 
cerned with the preservation of the state and she strengthened 
its military position and even to some extent increased its repu- 
tation and influence among the neighboring peoples. For about 
eight years she was regent of the Hasmonean state. Hyrcanus, 
the older son, was apparently neither too ambitious nor given to 
politics and administration; in appearance he was unimpressive 
and he was not made of the material which is required of an 
aggressive military leader. His mother made him High Priest, 
and at first he was quite satisfied. He was, however, credulous, 
gullible, and jealous of his younger brother. He allowed himself 
to become involved in intrigues and all his life he was used by 
selfish, ambitious schemers. 

Aristobulus, the younger son, was of great physical strength 
and impressive appearance, and ambitious like his father. He 
was impatient with and suspicious not only of his brother but 
also of his mother, who he felt was depriving him of his throne. 
Immediately after his father's death, Aristobulus began to work 
toward gaining control of the country, plotting with disgruntled 
elements, especially among his father's non-Jewish mercenaries, 



against his mother, and openly and brazenly challenging her 
right to be regent. For a few years she managed to head him off, 
but when she became seriously ill and could no longer conduct 
the affairs of state but permitted her counsellors to take over the 
responsibilities of the government, Aristobulus occupied a num- 
ber of fortresses and threatened the state. In the year 67 B.C. 
Alexandra died, at the age of seventy-three, leaving the newly 
enlarged Jewish state in the grip of civil war, for by that time 
Hyrcanus was heading a great section of the people who were 
supporting him against Aristobulus in his claim to the kingship, 
as the rightful heir of Alexander. 

The Two Brothers Clash 

A very important, if not decisive, role in the struggle between 
the two Hasmonean brothers was played by a man named Anti- 
pater. He was of Idumean ancestry but fully assimilated with the 
Jews, possessed of great administrative ability and very ambitious. 
His father, also called Antipater, had become governor of Idumea 
during the reign of Alexander Janneus; the younger Antipater 
succeeded him, and as governor of Idumea he was high in the 
councils of government in Jerusalem. Antipater was well ac- 
quainted with the Nabateans and was on intimate terms with 
their king in Petra for he had spent his youth in that city and had 
married a Nabatean woman, by whom he had three sons, all of 
them ambitious. The most famous was Herod. 

When the first skirmish between the two brothers took place, 
Hyrcanus was bested and he agreed that Aristobulus should 
become king while he would remain High Priest. Antipater, 
aware of Hyrcanus' credulity, and having in mind his own 
advancement, successfully convinced the elder brother that the 
younger was plotting to kill him. Since Aristobulus was strongly 
entrenched in Jerusalem, Antipater persuaded Hyrcanus, after 
considerable coaxing and shrewd maneuvering, to flee to Aretas, 
king of the Nabateans, who would assist him in his struggle 
against his brother. In return, Hyrcanus promised Aretas to 
return the twelve cities which his father, Alexander, had taken 
from the Nabateans. 

Aretas and Hyrcanus marched against Aristobulus and be- 
sieged Jerusalem. At the same time the last remnants of the 
Seleucids in Syria were being methodically eliminated by the 


Roman legions, and Syria itself was being converted into a full 
Roman province. While the two Hasmoneans were battling in 
Jerusalem, the Roman general Scaurus, who had been sent by 
Pompey to Damascus, came to Judea, and both brothers ap- 
proached him, through ambassadors, asking for assistance against 
the other. Scaurus favored Aristobulus, and after raising the 
siege of Jerusalem he ordered Aretas to leave the country on 
pain of being declared an enemy of Rome. Thus the first attempt 
of the Nabateans to interfere in the affairs of Judea ended in 
failure. Rome, her star already high, was determined to make the 
most of the invitation she had received in order to gain control 
of the area. 

Rome Invited 

Later, when Pompey himself arrived in Damascus, he was 
importuned by the ambassadors of the brothers (Antipater repre- 
senting Hyrcanus) to settle the quarrel between them. He invited 
Hyrcanus and Aristobulus to come to Damascus to see him. 
Having established herself in Syria, Rome's next objective was 
Petra. Pompey made no decision on the issue between the two 
brothers, for he was on his way to Petra. However, when he 
learned of Aristobulus' plans and of his conduct toward the 
Roman forces, he decided that this proud Hasmonean was a 
menace to Rome and must be eliminated; the more pliable 
Hyrcanus could be relied upon to cooperate and was therefore 
to be supported. Pompey abruptly cut short his expedition to 
Petra and turned to Judea, against Aristobulus. He captured 
Jerusalem and the Temple area, restored Hyrcanus to the high 
priesthood, and carried off Aristobulus and his children captive 
to Rome. Pompey made "Jerusalem tributary to Rome." l 

l Some eight years later Alexander, son of Aristobulus, escaped from. Rome 
and organized a rebellion against the Romans. Gabinius was sent from 
Rome to subdue the uprising and he destroyed the major fortresses held by 
Alexander, among them Macharus in Transjordan. Josephus reported that 
Gabinius settled all matters. "He brought Hyrcanus to Jerusalem and com- 
mitted the care of the temple to him; and when he had ordained five 
councils, he distributed the nation into the same number of parts: so these 
councils governed the people, the first was at Jerusalem, the second at 
Gadara, the third at Amathus, the fourth at Jericho and the fifth at 
Sepphoris in Galilee. So the Jews were now freed from monarchic authority 
and were governed by an aristocracy." Antiquities, XIV, v, 4. Two of the 
five councils were in Transjordan. 


The year 64 B.C. marks the beginning of Roman control and 
expansion in Judea and Transjordan. After formally establishing 
Roman rule in Syria and gaining control of Judea, Pompey 
became the patron of Hellenism in the East. The restoration 
and extension of Greek culture and influence in the area would 
enhance Rome's power and authority in a predominately Semitic 
environment. Pompey rebuilt or restored the Greek cities of the 
Decapolis which Hyrcanus I and Alexander Janneus had con- 
quered or demolished, and gave them the status of autonomous 
semi-independent cities and promised them protection against 
both the Jews and the Nabateans. The Decapolis cities were 
reorganized in the form of a loose league and they flourished 
almost to the very end of the Roman period. 

Antipater and Jewish Losses to the Nabateans 

The Perea, including the fortresses of Macharus in the south 
and Amathus in the north, was not disturbed and remained an 
integral part of Judea. The quarrel between the brothers had 
not only brought Rome to Judea but had cost the Jewish state 
twelve cities, which were yielded to the Nabateans, and all the 
Decapolis cities, which were re-established as Greek centers by 

Antipater now became the real force behind Hyrcanus, and 
played the dangerous game of constantly shifting sides in the 
civil strife between Pompey and Caesar. He finally cast his lot 
with Caesar and assisted him in his war with the ruler of Egypt. 
For this, Caesar appointed Hyrcanus ethnarch (47 B.C.) and 
named Antipater procurator of Judea. The ambitious Idumean 
took advantage of his new position and named his sons governors 
of the various districts of Judea; Herod became governor of 
Galilee and later also of the Perea. When Caesar was assassinated 
in 44 B.C., Antipater sided with Brutus and Cassius. A year later 
he was poisoned; Herod succeeded him and became the virtual 
ruler of Judea. In 40 B,C. the Parthians invaded the country and 
in Jerusalem they crowned Mathatias Antigonus, the second son 
of Aristobulus, king of Judea. Herod fled to Rome, but later 
returned triumphant as king of Judea, by order of the Roman 

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the Nabatean kingdom 
reached its zenith during the reign of Aretas III (85-60 B.C.). He 


extended Nabatean control eastward and southward, and in the 
north he ruled Damascus and held Philadelphia. He was favor- 
ably disposed toward Hellenism and he called himself Phil- 
hellene. The Nabateans became one of Rome's major objectives. 
It was perhaps the realization of the common danger from the 
Romans that induced Aretas, at the instigation of Antipater, to 
side with Hyrcanus against Aristobulus, who was at first favor- 
ably disposed toward Rome. Though the Nabateans could man 
the fortresses which guarded the trade routes, and though they 
were capable of defending their cities against invaders, they 
were ineffective in offensive warfare and no match for the veteran 
Roman legions. When Scaurus ordered them to lift the siege of 
Jerusalem, they had no alternative but to retreat quickly, and 
subsequently they suffered serious losses at the hands of Aristo- 
bulus. Rome was not to forget the insolence of the Nabateans. 
Pompey was ready to march against Petra but was diverted by 
his campaign against Aristobulus; Scaurus, therefore, who had 
been made governor of Syria, was ordered by Pompey to proceed 
against Petra. At the city a stalemate developed; the Nabateans 
and the Romans were apparently eager to accept the good offices 
of Antipater, who was now a friend of both. After receiving a 
sizable quantity of gold, Scaurus departed, but when the Greek 
cities of the Decapolis were restored the Nabateans had to give 
up Damascus, Philadelphia and Canatha. 

Rome Goes After the Nabateans 

When Gabinius was sent to restore order after the rebellions 
staged by Aristobulus and his son Alexander, he also undertook 
an expedition against the Nabateans, who were not unwilling 
to encourage the anti-Roman forces in Judea. Gabinius defeated 
the Nabateans, and although it is not recorded that he succeeded 
in reducing Petra, he brought full Roman control over them 
one step nearer. When the Parthians took Jerusalem, Herod 
escaped to Petra where he hoped to receive assistance from 
Malchus I (50-28 B.C.) because of the King's friendship with his 
father Antipater and the generally good relations between him- 
self and the Nabateans. Malchus, however, refused to befriend 
him and Herod was forced to flee to Egypt, from whence he 
went to Rome. The Nabateans, cooperating with the Parthians 
against the Romans, worked toward the restoration of the 


Hasmoneans against the usurper Herod. When the Parthians 
were defeated and Herod restored, the Nabateans were punished 
by both Rome and Herod. It was therefore not difficult for 
Cleopatra to persuade Mark Antony to bestow upon her lands 
in Nabatea and Judea. Cleopatra leased them to produce 
income. Herod willingly leased back his own former lands, but 
the Nabateans refused to give up any of their lands. Herod, on 
behalf of Mark Antony, thereupon undertook an expedition 
against the Nabateans, defeating them in 31 B.C., and avenging 
himself on Malchus. The relations between the Nabateans and 
Herod became tense, and the Nabateans assumed a hostile 
attitude toward Judea. 

Herod, now a favorite of Rome, set himself to the task of 
re-establishing Judean control and position in Transjordan. He 
reorganized the Perea and rebuilt and strengthened the fortress 
of Macharus, which had been destroyed by Gabinius, and it 
became the second most important fortress in Judea. But Herod 
was not satisfied merely to restore the fortress; he wanted to 
enlarge it and make it not only the guardian of the Perea 
against the Nabateans, but a great military center in itself. 
According to Josephus, Herod rebuilt the old fortress on top of 
the hill, enlarged and expanded it, and "surrounded a large 
space of ground with walls and towers and built a city there, 
out of which city there was a way that led up to the very citadel 
itself on top of the mountain; nay, more than this, he built 
a wall round that top of the hill, and erected towers at the 
corners, of 160 cubits high; in the middle of which place he built 
a palace, after a magnificent manner, wherein were large and 
beautiful edifices. He also made a great many reservoirs for the 
reception of water, that there might be plenty of it ready for 
all uses, and those in the proper places that were afforded him 
there/' 2 Herod also developed the mineral springs at Callirrhoe 

2 Josephus, Wars of the Jews, VII, 6, 2. Macharus is identified with modern 
al Makawer. Many a traveler has reported on the ruins of this once all- 
important fortress, but what is perhaps more significant are the general 
developments which surrounded it. Nelson Glueck, no doubt the greatest 
modern student of this part of the world, reports thus: "There is little left 
of the massive building which once crowned the hill at the edge of the 
plateau, except an impressive spread of foundation ruins. Almost every 
house teems to have had its own cistern. There are certainly one hundred 
cisterns among the ruins, and as many again in the fields behind El Qereiyat 
at El Makawer. A few of them have been cleared out and repaired, and 
were full of water at the time of our visit to the site in August 1936. Only 
a small portion of the extensive ancient fields and gardens around 1 


(modern Zarqa Main). In these hot springs he hoped, later on, 
to find a cure for the disease of which he died. He took Heshbon 
away from the Nabateans and rebuilt it as a military colony, 
thus assuring himself control of Transjordan. When Augustus 
emerged victorious from the battle of Actium, Herod convinced 
him of his loyalty and Augustus confirmed him in his Judean 
kingdom, returning to him the territories Mark Antony had 
taken from him and given to Cleopatra; he permitted him to 
retain Heshbon and gave him the Decapolis cities of Gadara 
and Hippos. In recognition both of his loyalty and his admin- 
istrative talents, Augustus also granted Herod some Trans- 
Jordanian territories north of the Decapolis Trachon, Bashan 
and Hauran which were overrun by nomads who were menacing 
the trade routes. It was to be Herod's task to clear these territories 
and establish order and security so that trade between Damascus, 
Transjordan and Egypt could be conducted without hindrance. 
Herod brought up some 6,000 of his own Idumeans whom he 
felt he could trust and who he hoped would drive the bedouins 
back into the desert and establish themselves firmly in the terri- 
tories, but the Idumeans were no match for the crafty desert 
men and they returned to their own homes. Herod then brought 
up some 6,000 excellent Jewish cavalrymen who came from 
Babylonia and who were seeking permanent new homes. These 
were granted free land, special privileges, and were exempted 
from all taxes. They soon established order and security; for 
many years thereafter they were an important force, and Herod's 
standing with the Romans was greatly enhanced because of 
them. In 20 B.C. Herod obtained permission from Augustus to 
appoint his brother Pheroras tetrarch of the Perea. 3 By the end 
of the pre-Christian era the Romans ruled the eastern Mediter- 
ranean territories by two systems: Syria and Phoenicia directly 
by Roman governors; Judea and Nabatea indirectly through 

Makawer which stretch all the way to El Qereiyat, are worked nowadays. 
Between these two sites, there is a maze of gardens and terrace walls, and it 
is obvious that at the time of the occupation of El Qereiyat and El Makawer, 
the western highland plateau was extensively cultivated by a large and 
industrious population. This is in striking contrast to the abandoned con- 
dition of the area today/' Nelson Glueck, "Explorations in Eastern Palestine, 
III," Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research, XVIII-XIX, 
131-152, 1939. 

3 At the same time, no doubt to keep a check on Herod, Augustus recog- 
nized Aretas IV (9 B.C.-40 A.D.) as king of the Nabateans and permitted 
him to rule Damascus through a Nabatean ethnarch. 


local kings. A certain balance was maintained between Judea 
and Nabatea which gave Rome a check on both. 

Herod's Successors 

Herod died in 4 B.C. and in accordance with his will, his terri- 
tories in Transjordan were divided between two of his sons. 
Herod Antipas became the tetrarch of the Perea, and Philip the 
tetrarch of the territories north of the Decapolis. The Decapolis 
cities which Herod had ruled were detached and added to the 
province of Syria. Although Antipas was married to the daughter 
of Aretas, disputes over the boundaries between the Perea and 
Nabatea created tension between him and Aretas. To add to 
his difficulties, Antipas ^ fell in love with his brother's wife, 
Herodias, and divorced Aretas's daughter. She escaped to 
Macharus and from there was able to make her way to her 
father in Petra; she urged him to avenge her humiliation. Open 
warfare ensued and Antipas was badly defeated; he complained 
to Rome and the Emperor Tiberius ordered the Roman Legate 
in Syria to march against the Nabateans and depose Aretas. In 
the meantime, however, Tiberius died and Aretas was never 
punished. 4 

During the reign of Herod Antipas, the Perea covered the 
area between the Arnon, Jabbok and Jabesh rivers and took in 
a good part of the hilly country to the east; it corresponded 
roughly to the modern district of Balqa. Josephus, describing 
the Perea, said that it "produces all kinds of fruit, and its plains 
are planted with trees of all sorts, while yet the olive tree, the 
vine, and the palm tree, are chiefly cultivated there. It is also 
sufficiently watered with torrents, which issue out of the moun- 
tains and with springs that never fail to run, even when the 
torrents fail them, as they do in the dog days. Now the length 
of the Perea is from Machearus to Pella and its breadth from 
Philadelphia to Jordan*' (Wars of the Jews, III, iii, 2). It was an 
integral part of the Jewish homeland and, in fact, when the 
Jews in Galilee made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem they took a 
roundabout route through the Perea rather than the direct 

4 According to the New Testament, John the Baptist accused Antipas of 
violating Jewish law by marrying his brother's wife while his brother was 
still alive, thereby living with her in sin. In revenge, Herodias had John 
thrown into prison at Macharus; her daughter Salome asked her stepfather 
for John's head as the price for dancing for him. 


route by way of Samaria, which was pagan and hostile. The 
three main Jewish provinces at the time were Judea, Galilee 
and Perea. 

In 37 A.D. Philip died childless and the Roman Emperor 
Caligula gave his possessions in Trans Jordan to Agrippa I, a 
grandson of Herod. Antipas, meanwhile, driven by the ambitions 
of his wife to seek a higher rank, had fallen out with the Romans, 
and he and Herodias had been exiled to Gaul. The Perea was 
also given to Agrippa, who thus came into possession of all his 
grandfather's territory in Transjordan except the Decapolis 
cities. When Agrippa I died suddenly in 44 A,D., everything 
reverted to the Roman procurator, Agrippa II began to regain 
some of the territories which had belonged to his granduncle 
Philip, and by 54 A.D. he had recovered two-thirds of the Perea. 
Ten years later, however, the Jews revolted against Rome. Their 
last stand in Transjordan, after all the Perea was lost, was at 
Macharus, which was finally destroyed by the Roman general 
Bassus in 72 A.D., after which the Perea was annexed to the 
province of Syria. 

Rome Takes Petra 

Although both Judea and Nabatea were controlled by Rome 
and should have been united against that alien power, the 
relations between the two deteriorated, especially during the 
reign of Herod. After the latter's death, when the Roman general 
Varus organized an army against the Jews, Aretas IV, who had 
fought Herod Antipas, assisted the Romans. Malchus II (48-71 
A.D.) contributed troops to the army of Vespasian, who was trying 
to put down the Jewish rebellion (67 A.D.). But when the 
Romans, after crushing the Jewish uprising, became the direct 
rulers of Judea and the Perea, it was inevitable that Nabatea 
would also have to come under their direct rule. The annexation 
of Petra would enable Rome to control and protect the trade 
routes and to guarantee the outposts of the empire; Nabatea, 
which served as the defense barrier against the nomads, would 
have to become part of the empire. 

In the year 90 A.D. the Emperor Trajan began to reorganize 
the administrative division of Transjordan and he created the 
Arabia Province which encompassed the Decapolis cities and the 
Perea. In 105 A.D. he ordered the governor of Syria, Cornelius 




Courtesy American Schools of Oriental Research 

Roman road east of Wadi Laban 




Palma, to close the ring and add Nabatea to the Province. When 
this was done, the Arabia Province stretched from Petra in the 
south to Bosra in the north. The Nabatean kingdom was no 

Under direct Roman administration, Transjordan, and espe- 
cially the new Arabia Province, entered into a period of great 
prosperity. New villages and cities sprang up along the major 
trade routes, and farming expanded. The Romans rebuilt some 
of the old main highways and undertook new ones. Aila, or 
Elath, was rehabilitated and became a major port. The old 
"king's highway" was rebuilt; it went from Aila on the Gulf 
of Aqaba to Bosra and on into the Hauran. Another important 
highway, running east to west, connected Philadelphia with 
Jerusalem. (The major portions of this road are still in use in 
the present road from Amman to Jerusalem.) The Roman mile- 
stones of the south-north highway, which was called the Trajan 
road, connected the main stations of Aqaba, Egli, Tafilah, Karak, 
Madeba, Heshbon, Philadelphia, Azrak, Gerasa, Ajlun, Irbid, 
and others to the north. 

Roman Defense System 

The Romans evolved a double system of defense: internal 
and external. They ringed the settled territories with fortresses 
and forts, garrisoned with Roman troops, to protect the culti- 
vated area from inroads by desert marauders, as well as to pro- 
tect traders moving with their wares over the highway. Some of 
the ruins of these fortresses can still be seen today; they indicate 
the limits of the then cultivable area. For external defense, the 
Romans subsidized the chieftains of the desert tribes so they 
would stop members of their own tribes, as well as other tribes, 
from raiding the settled area. Eventually these subsidized tribal 
leaders became partly sedentary and themselves penetrated into 
the settled area. Such payments were perhaps the initiation of 
a system of obtaining security through bribing potential in- 
vaders to serve as protectors. 

Petra Described 

It was during the early Roman period that Petra reached its 
zenith as a center of urban culture and prosperity. Most of the 


magnificent buildings, the ruins of which still astound every 
visitor, were completed at that time. The city in its full grandeur 
was an achievement in which nature and man had cooperated; 
the varied colors of the native rock, the rock formations and 
their dizzying heights, the carvability of the rock combined 
with man's ingenuity, imagination, tenacity and creativity, 
combined to produce one of the great marvels of all time. Not 
only was adequate water to meet all human necessities brought, 
by skillful engineering, inside the rock city, but gigantic and 
majestic temples were hewn out of the rock, at different levels, 
as well as theaters, houses, tombs and magnificent monuments, 
streets, stairways, and huge water pools. Although the architec- 
tural styles indicate no special originality on the contrary, they 
give clear evidence of imitating the civilizations with which the 
Nabateans had come in contact, as a trading people inevitably 
must the sweep and grandeur of the various architectural 
achievements were Nabatean in concept. They still astonish 
every beholder and fill him with awe and admiration for the 
creators of this wonderful rock city in the middle of a wilderness. 
To be sure, the specialists have carefully examined and analyzed 
the various elements and influences as they are manifested in 
the ruins in the sprawling city, but as a whole it was a concep- 
tion of the human mind which is not only an object of admira- 
tion but also a challenge to modern man. 

The entrance to Petra is by a ravine, about 6,000 feet long 
and at its narrowest twenty feet wide, called al Siq. Alongside 
this ravine is a channel cut into the rock through which the 
water from the nearby Ain Musa (Moses* Well) flowed into the 
city. Passing through this narrow ravine, which at places becomes 
quite dark because the tall walls block out the sun, one is 
confronted with al Khaznah (Treasury). Carved out of the rock, 
this building is gigantic in concept and impressive in execution. 
The sun's rays striking the rock produce a reddish tinge almost 
flamelike. From al Khaznah stretches an open space, about one 
mile in diameter; this forms the center of the city and through 
the middle of it runs a river. On all sides of this open space 
rise walls of rock, forming an almost complete circle. In these 
walls the entire city was built. Here were the markets, the store- 
houses, homes, temples, theatres, tombs, and the various under- 
ground and open-air water pools and public baths. The amphi- 
theater has been described as one of Petra's most outstanding 

V THi 

Siq Petra 

Three Lions, Inc. 


The treasury Petra 










monuments. It is thirty-nine yards in diameter and contains 
thirty-three tiers of seats, capable of accommodating some 4,000 
persons. The rock-hewn stairways which led up to great altars, 
temples and other buildings, large sections of which are still 
standing, linked the various parts of the city. The largest of 
Petra's monuments is al Deir (The Monastery), some 560 feet 
above the valley of the main city. The colors created by the 
sun's rays against the colors of the rock have bewitched every 
visitor, and Petra has been called "one of the most beautiful 
and picturesque remains in the world." 5 

The Decapolis Under Rome 

The Decapolis cities also reached their greatest growth under 
the Romans, during the first two centuries of the Christian era. 
There can be no doubt that some of the elements which made 
up the earliest foundations of these cities were Greek, but the 
cities re-established or reorganized by Pompey were primarily 
Roman in character. The most outstanding cities in Transjordan 
were Hippos, Abila, Gadara, Canatha, Pella, Dion, Philadelphia 
and Gerasa. 

The religion of the Decapolis was predominantly Greek, al- 
though some Syrian elements crept into the religious practices. 
The architecture was Greek of the Roman period; each city 
had a colonnaded street, a forum, temple, theatre, public baths 
and mausoleum. Later on, during the Christian era, a basilica 
and a martyrs' monument were added. Some of the cities had 
Jewish communities, and in these there were also synagogues. 
In most of the cities nothing is left but the bases of a few 
columns; in some, colonnades, theatres and temples survived 
the destruction of war and earthquakes and are still standing. 
It is possible to assay a brief description of some of the cities. 

Pella (the name would indicate pure Greek origin) is usually 
identified with modern Tabaqat Fahil. The city, famous for 
its water supply, lay on the boundary of the Perea and the area 
of the Decapolis. Ruins indicate the existence of a citadel, two 

5 After writing a whole book about Petra, Sir Alexander B. W. Kennedy 
concluded: "Petra remains in reality, in spite of the work which has been 
done upon it, a riddle very largely unsolved/' Petra: Its History and Monu- 
ments (London, 1925), 81. 


temples and a basilica; tombs and mills were found on the 
western side of the city. 

Gadara (the name indicates Semitic origin) was located on a 
hill overlooking the Yarmuk and the Sea of Galilee; it is identi- 
fied with modern Um Qeis. In the days of the Seleucids it was 
the capital of Gilead. There are remains of three theatres, two 
temples, a citadel, basilica, colonnaded street, large reservoir 
and long aqueduct. 

In Amathus, the fortress inside the city limits of Gadara, were 
found a temple, theatre and synagogue. Here are also the warm 
springs that were famous throughout the land. 6 As is character- 
istic of all Transjordan, some of the stones of ancient Gadara 
served as building material for the new houses of Um Qeis. The 
ruins of Gadara cover an area of more than two miles; the 
town's main street ran east and west and was about a mile long. 
The deep furrows made by the wheels of the Roman chariots 
are still visible. On the eastern slopes beyond the city were 
found hundreds of tombs cut into the rock and fitted with 
lintels and doors of black basalt not native to the immediate 
vicinity. Some of these doors, which turned on hinges, are still 
in place. 7 

Abila (name of Semitic origin) is identified with Tel Abil. 
There are ruins there of fortifications, a temple, basilica, citadel 
and bridge across the Wadi. 

Dion (by name, purely Greek), identified by some as Tel 

6 Said Strabo: "To Gadara the pleasure-loving Romans, after having 
enjoyed the restorative effects of the hot springs, returned for refreshment 
enjoying the cooler heights of the city and solacing their leisure with the 
plays performed in die theatres." 

7 A traveler in the early part of the last century described one of these 
doors: The door which was seven spans high, was paneled by a double 
moulding in four oblong squares and divided by a perpendicular line left 
in relief upon its centre and resembling exactly a bar of iron, with five 
studs, like the heads of iron bolts. The greatest peculiarity was, perhaps, 
the small stone knocker, in the centre of one of the 'panels, cut like the 
seeming iron bars and bolts, all of it of one solid stone, and of a piece with 
the door itself, so as to give it the appearance of a well-secured dwelling 
on approaching it." J S Buckingham, Travels in Palestine through the 
countries of Bashan and Gilead (London, 1821), 415 


Courtesy American Schools of Oriental Research 

Stone door Qasr Azraq 


Ashari, and by others as Eidun, contains ruins of a fortified 
city, temples, and a huge swimming pool. 

Philadelphia was located on the site of ancient Rabbath 
Amman and is identified with modern Amman, the capital of 
Jordan. Of the Decapolis cities, it was one of the richest in 
ancient ruins; it had a theatre, an odeum, a nymphaeum, and 
public baths. At the southern end of the Acropolis are the ruins 
of a temple; a propylea stood on the main colonnaded streets. 

The theatre, judged to have been the largest of its kind in 
the area, was built on a rocky hillside, and although only a 
hundred yards wide, it had three divisions of seats, one above 
the other and each containing sixteen tiers; its seating capacity 
is estimated at about six thousand. It is well preserved. Conder, 
the great surveyor of eastern Palestine, remarked that although 
for a student of the Orient there was not much to be learned 
from a study of the Roman town, there emerged the striking 
fact that a very large and rich population had inhabited the 
city in the second century. 

The most outstanding city of the Decapolis in terms of remains 
is without doubt Gerasa. The origin of the name is not known, 
but the city was very likely founded by the followers of Alexan- 
der the Great. It was renamed Antiochia by Antiochus IV. It 
is identified with modern Jarash, which is simply an Arabic 
reading of the Latin Gerasa. One of the most powerful and 
wealthy cities of the time, it is situated in the hills of Gilead 
in the district of Jabal Ajlun. The ancient city surrounded a 
rushing brook and was itself surrounded by a wall about three 
miles in circumference. Its impressive gates guarded the roads 
which connected it with other Decapolis cities. The city con- 
tained all the usual structures characteristic of prosperous Greek 
centers. A long colonnaded street ended in a forum; above the 
forum rose a temple, behind which were a great theatre, public 
baths, tombs, and the inevitable triumphal arch. Also within 
the city were a naumachia encircled with tiers of seats from 
which spectators watched miniature-type Roman ships engage 
in mock warfare, and a hippodrome. More than two hundred 
columns are still standing. Remains of ancient synagogues as 
well as later Christian churches have also been discovered. 


Roman theatre-Amman 












The countryside was intensively cultivated; hills were terraced, 
canals dug for irrigation, and waterworks carried water for 
distribution for all purposes. Though it was located in the out- 
lying provinces of the Roman Empire, Gerasa was apparently 
built in splendor for pleasant and luxurious living. 

Roman Decline 

At the beginning of the third century A.D., Petra's importance 
began to decline. The trade movement was increasingly in an 
east-west direction, and the center of trade shifted to Bosra, 
which became the capital of the Arabia Province. The southern 
part of Transjordan was thus exposed to the pressure from the 
desert nomads. At the same time the fortresses around the 
territory, which were known as Arabicus limes, became more 
and more depleted of Roman soldiers; they were replaced by 
Arabs from tribes subsidized by the Romans. The best known 
of these tribes were the Ghassanides. Their exact origin is not 
known, but Arab writers maintain that they came from Yemen, 
moved northward in the third century, and slowly began to 
settle on the fringes of the district of Balqa early in the fourth 
century. The Ghassanides took over a large measure of responsi- 
bility for the security of the territory; to that extent the grip 
that Rome had over the area weakened and the prosperity of 
the province began to decline. 

In 330 A.D. Byzantium became the capital of the Roman 
Empire. Efforts were begun to reorganize the frontier provinces. 
Some twenty years later the former Nabatean kingdom, with 
some territory from Idumea added, was constituted as a separate 
province, under the name of Palestina Salutaris. When the 
Empire broke up into two sections in 395 A.D., the Arabian 
provinces and Judea were included in the eastern section, which 
was known as the Byzantium Empire; its capital was Constan- 
tinople. Some thirty-five years later another reorganization took 
place. Palestina Prima included Judea, Samaria, the coastal 
lowlands, most of Idumea and Perea; Palestina Secunda included 
Galilee, the Decapolis and Golan; and the former Palestina 
Salutaris became Palestina Tertia. 

When the Emperor Constantine (324-337 A.D.J was converted 
to Christianity, many Transjordanians, both urban as well as 
nomads, also converted, and Christianity became a force in the 


history of the area. Indeed, some of Transjordan's cities became 
the seats of bishoprics and archbishoprics, and among the 
participants in the early Church councils were the bishops of 
Petra, Madeba, and others. The Ghassanides, who had succeeded 
in dominating many of the desert tribes and who had become 
at least partially sedentary, were hired by the Byzantine admin- 
istration to aid in its struggle against the Persians; the Emperor 
Justinian named their chief, Hareth Ibn Jahala (529-569 A.D.), 
king of the Arabs. 

The Byzantine Empire was under continued assault by the 
Persians and the nomads from the desert. In time the trading 
center shifted from the southern part of Transjordan to Palmyra 
in Syria, and as a consequence the commercial cities of Trans- 
Jordan began to dwindle; soon they were no more than mere 
shadows of their former splendor and prosperity. 

In 614 A.D. the Persians broke through the Byzantine lines 
and completed the conquest of the eastern provinces. Although 
they remained for only a short time, they left their mark on 
Transjordan in the form of an unfinished palace at Mashitta, 
built by King Chrosroes II. Located seven miles east of Kalat 
Ziza, on the Hijaz railway, the palace is one of the finest examples 
of Persian decorative architecture. It has been suggested that, 
judging from its name, it might have been intended as the 
king's winter palace. It consisted of a wall enclosure about 160 
yards square, elaborately ornamented with carvings and designs 
of characteristic Persian patterns. Part of the enclosure con- 
tained a large gateway. Before the palace could be completed, 
the Byzantines succeeded in driving the Persians out of the 
territory (only fourteen years after the conquest). But even at 
that time the Byzantine Empire was falling apart. In 635 A.D. the 
entire territory was overrun by the Islamic invaders. The cities 
of the Decapolis, Perea and Nabatea were almost depopulated 
and the land again entered on another of its long periods of 

Chapter V 

Appearance of Islam 

THE BATTERING which the Byzantine Empire received 
from the Persians, the weakening of the security forces 
within the Arabian provinces, and the ever increasing 
pressures from the desert brought Transjordan, with all its 
cities and towns of Greek and Roman culture, to inevitable 
collapse. Most of the trade had already been drawn off because 
of the insecurity, and the commercial centers, which had been 
teeming stations of activity and prosperity, were seriously de- 
populated. The final blow was very soon to fall. Waves of 
bedouins coming out of Arabia were inspired and fired with 
the zeal and abandon of a new warlike religion; the new faith 
given to these desert people by the Prophet Muhammad pre- 
scribed war on the infidels as one of its major doctrines, and 
their war activities became a religious commandment of the 
Muslims. The warriors sweeping down through the Yarmuk 
valley could not be stopped by the weakened and disorganized 
Byzantine armies. 

To be sure, in the first encounter between Islam and Byzan- 
tium in the battle of Muta in 629 A.D., Islam was defeated and 
its military leader, Jafar Ibn abu Talib, nicknamed al Tayyar, 
was killed. But in 633 A.D. the Arabs came back in a second 
attack and the Byzantine forces retreated to Damascus, which 
the Arabs besieged. The final decision came three years later 
at the battle of the Yarmuk. The Arab forces commanded by 
Khalid bin Walid were concentrated on the southern bank of 
the river, with the Byzantine forces on the opposite bank. On 
August 20, 636, the fatal battle was fought and won by the 
Arabs. The Emperor Heraclius set out for Constantinople in 
the long retreat of Byzantium from the East, never to return 



again. The Caliph Abu Bakr died shortly after and was suc- 
ceeded by Umar bin Khattab, who had successfully carried out 
the Arab conquest in Galilee, the Jordan lowlands, central and 
southern Palestine, and who ultimately eliminated the Byzan- 
tine Empire from this part of the world. 

Territorial Organization 

By this time most of the settled centers in Transjordan were 
either destroyed or reduced to mere remnants. At first the 
conquerors continued the old administrative division system, 
with Damascus as the center. The units were now called junds 
(literally, troops of soldiers), meaning units administered by 
military companies. Soon, however, the devastated areas lost 
all importance and became part of other divisions. Palestina 
Tertia became part of the Damascus jund, the rest of Trans- 
Jordan part of the Filastin fund, while the Urdun jund com- 

Courtesy American Schools of Oriental Research 

Qasir Amrah. 








prised Galilee and the lowlands of the Jordan. Transjordan 
later became part of the Damascus jund. With the establishment 
of the Ummayad dynasty in 661 A.D. and the transfer of the 
capital of the caliphate to Damascus, Transjordan's proximity 
to the new center made it a place of retreat for the Caliphs and 
gave it some importance for the next hundred years. It was 
during this period that some of the notable Muslim monuments, 
especially those on the fringe of the desert, were erected. The 
best known are the castles of Hamam Sara, Tuba, and Qasir 
Amrah. In the latter were extravagant frescoes depicting the 
Caliph with his conquered enemies, among whom were Roderick, 
the Emperor of Byzantium, the last of the Visigothic kings of 
Spain, the Persian king Chroseroes, and the Ethiopian king. 
It was also during this period that the pilgrimage to Mecca 
developed; the route it took followed the old Transjordan road 
from Damascus to Maan, where it turned toward the Hijaz. 
Along this route trade caravans developed. Both the pilgrims 
and the merchants had to pay tribute to the tribes who con- 
trolled the major stations. 

About the middle of the eighth century, the Ummayads were 
succeeded by the Abbasid dynasty, and the capital shifted to 
Bagdad. 1 This shift not only deprived Transjordan of whatever 
value it had as a retreat for the Caliphs, but the pilgrimage 
road was abandoned and a new road from Bagdad to Mecca 
became the major highway for the pilgrims. 

With the decline of the Abbasids, the caliphate began to 
break up and independent units established themselves in 
different parts of the empire. The Fatamids seized Egypt and 
pressed on Transjordan, Palestine and Syria from the southeast- 
at the same time the Seljuk Turks became a powerful force 
and began to move on the same area from the north. 

Faint echoes of the conditions in Transjordan have come 
from some Arab geographers of the period. Yakubi, about the 
end of the ninth century, declared that the Balqa (former Perea) 
was the outlying district of the Damascus jund. Ishtakhri, about 
the middle of the tenth century, said about ash Sharah- 'This 
district is extremely fertile and rich, only the Bedouin Arabs 
have the upper hand, and so ruin all." Mukaddasi, writing about 

* ** Vffl * 8P f Humaima on ** d between 


the end of the tenth century, said about Amman that it bordered 
the desert, and after describing the shrines and other interesting 
sites, he noted: "Living here is cheap, and fruit is plentiful, on 
the other hand, the people of the place are illiterate, and the 
roads thither wretched, but the city is even as a harbor of the 
desert and a place of refuge for the Bedouin Arabs." 

The Seljuk Turks 

The struggle between the Fatamids and the Seljuks for control 
of Palestine and the surrounding territories continued unabated, 
until by 1071 A.D. the Turks had gained the upper hand and 
the Fatamid power declined. Then a new force appeared on 
the horizon, one which was to affect the history of the area for 
the next two hundred years, and very likely for many hundreds 
of years more: the Crusades. Whatever the reasons and motiva- 
tions for the Crusades may have been, and there can be no 
doubt that other than purely religious motives were involved, 
the fact remains that great numbers of Christians from Europe 
came to the ancient birthplace of Christianity with the avowed 
purpose of liberating it from the hands of the non-believers. 
But once the Crusaders had captured Jerusalem and established 
the Latin kingdom there, the struggle against the forces of 
Islam involved more than religion, and more than the liberation 
of the Holy Sepulchre. Economics and military strategy were 
important determinants, and it is within the framework of these 
that we must view the Crusaders' efforts in Transjordan. The 
territory linked Syria with Egypt on the one hand, and Syria 
with Arabia on the other; whoever was in possession of Trans- 
Jordan held the key roads over which all commercial and 
strategic traffic moved. 

Crusaders' Interlude 

At the end of the eleventh century Jerusalem fell to the 
Crusaders and Godfrey de Bouillon became king of the Latin 
kingdom of Jerusalem. He was soon succeeded by his brother, 
Baldwin I, who created the principality of Oultre Jourdain, 
the most important fief of the new Christian kingdom. In 1115 
A.D. Baldwin crossed into Transjordan at the head of an army 


and penetrated as far as Wadi Musa near Petra. He occupied 
Shobek, where he built a fortress which he called Mons Regalis 
or Montreal, and annexed all the territory around it which was 
excellent horticultural land. The fortress was located on a 
natural height and overlooked the Cairo-Damascus caravan 
route. Other positions were occupied and fortified; and in order 
to prevent the development of any possible alternative link 
between Egypt and Syria, Baldwin took Aila (Elath) on the 
Gulf -of Aqaba. Roman de Puy was the first lord of the Barony 
of Oultre Jourdain, which stretched from Wadi Zarqa Main in 
the north to the Gulf of Aqaba in the south. De Puy was con- 
victed of treason in 1128 and Payen le Bouteiller succeeded to 
his title. Le Bouteiller built the castle at Karak or, as it was 
then called, le Crac, on the site of Kir Moab, which became the 
capital and military and road center of the barony and the most 
important of all the Crusaders' strongholds in Transjordan. The 
castle is still standing, as are some of the subterranean vaults 
and walls of the city. 

The Crusaders were in a position to exact tribute from all 
who used the road for commercial or religious purposes, and in 
time many of the Crusaders themselves became commercial 
travelers. Renaud de Ch&tillon, after marrying Etienette the 
suzerain of the fief, became the lord of the barony of Oultre 
Jourdain. Ambitious and unscrupulous, and possessed of great 
initiative, Chatillon was determined to take advantage of all 
the possibilities of his barony. Not satisfied with the regular 
tribute collected from Muslim travelers, he attacked rich cara- 
vans on their way to the Hijaz and robbed them of all their 
possessions. He was resolved to break the Muslim hold on the 
country and he attempted to carry the battle into enemy terri- 
tory. He built a fleet at Ascalon, brought it overland from the 
Mediterranean to Karak and from there to Aqaba, from where 
he planned to raid the holy cities of Arabia. The fleet was 
successfully launched, but the raids never materialized; the 
ships were completely destroyed by the Egyptian fleet before 
they reached their destination. The Muslims, recognizing the 
danger which de CMtillon was to them, decided to stop him 
from interfering with their lines of communications and from 
attacking the pilgrimages. These objectives were achieved by 
Salah ad Din-Saladin. 


Saladin and the End of the Crusaders 

At about the time the Crusaders were expanding their control 
over Transjordan, an appointee of the Seljuks was carving out 
for himself a kingdom from Mosul, southwestward, not only 
at the expense of his fellow-Muslims in Syria, but also at the 
expense of the Crusaders' established positions. One of this 
man's sons, Nur ad Din, extended the conquest over all of 
Syria, but the command of Damascus he entrusted to a Kurd 
of high military reputation, Ayyub, who became the virtual 
master of Damascus and its vicinity. Ayyub's son was Saladin. 

In 1171, while the last of the Fatamids were struggling in 
Egypt, Saladin became ruler of that Muslim state, with the full 
approval and support of Nur ad Din. From Egypt Saladin 
began to push in the direction of Palestine. He captured Aila 
on the Gulf of Aqaba, from where he was to launch an attack 
to conquer the whole country. His hold on Egypt would be 
insecure unless he possessed Syria, and to keep Syria linked to 
Egypt, he would have to control Transjordan, or at least be 
assured of free communication between the two. After a series 
of battles, he gained control of Syria, established himself in 
Damascus, and in 1175 proclaimed himself Sultan of Syria. He 
was now ready to move against the Crusaders, especially Renaud 
de Chatillon. In retaliation for the outrages perpetrated by de 
Chatillon, Saladin besieged Karak (1183), but because of the 
natural advantages of the castle, he was unsuccessful in his 
effort. A truce was subsequently concluded under which de 
Chatillon agreed to allow Muslim caravans to pass freely between 
Damascus and Egypt. He soon reneged on his promise and 
assaulted some caravans coming from Karak, killing the men 
and carrying off the women. Saladin appealed to de Chatillon 
for redress, but without results; after considerable preparation, 
he went to war against the Crusaders. The decisive battle took 
place at Hattin (Hittin) on the Sea of Galilee. On July 5, 1187 
the Crusaders were utterly defeated, and among the leaders 
taken captive was de CMtillon. For his act of treachery, he was 
killed by Saladin himself. The short-lived venture of the Cru- 
saders in Transjordan thus ended, and the territory reverted 
to the Muslims. 

With Saladin began the Ayyubid line. In 1193 A.D. Saladin 


died in Damascus and his possessions were divided among the 
members of his family. The dynasty lasted until 1257 A.D. when 
the Mamluks came to power. Their ascendancy, however, was 
overshadowed by the Mongolian devastation, under the leader- 
ship of Hulagu, which covered the entire area. Although the 
Mongolians were stopped by the Mamluks at the battle of 
Ain Jalut (now Beth Shean), the region remained in ruins, from 
which it did not recover until modern times. 

As for Transjordan, some of the Crusaders' abandoned castles 
were taken over by the new masters and restored. In Shobek the 
Muslims not only restored the castle to its former condition, 
but they put on an Arabic inscription, in letters about two-and- 
a-half feet high and extending a hundred feet, around the walls 
of the city, like a frieze. Karak became the seat of a viceroy of the 
Ayyubid dynasty and a treasury for their valued possessions. 

The Mamluks ousted the Ayyubids, and their Sultan Baibars 
reorganized the territory and tried to strengthen it against an- 
other possible Mongolian invasion. He repaired the castle of 
Karak and other castles, and built a new line of defense from 
Damascus by way of Ajlun to as Salt. 

But Transjordan under the Mamluks did not revive. Their 
main achievement was the repairing of the castles built by the 
Crusaders or by the Ayyubid rulers.* A very few old cities flour- 
ished, jbut only as way stations on the caravan route rather than 
as agricultural or commercial centers. Some of the Arab writers 
of the period have left a not too bright picture. Yakut (early 
thirteenth century) stated that Shobek was "a fortified castle 
on the Syrian border near Al Karak/' and that by "this fortress 
travelers from Egypt up to Syria by the desert road were secured 
from wild Arabs." About Gerasa, Yakut said: "Jerash is the 
name of what was once a mighty city, but is now a total ruin." 
Karak survived all vicissitudes. 

Amman remained an urban center, although it was seriously 
reduced in size and importance. It was no longer the capital of 
the Balqa province as it had been under the first Muslims- it 
was now replaced by Hesban (Heshbon). Abu al Fida (e^rly 
fourteenth century) described Amman as a town of ancient ruins, 

2 One of the most celebrated of the Muslim fortresses in northern 
iTSe X tff al ^ ba * at P a hiU in the viUa^f Ajff 
*~ ^ I 10 ? , f . an old fortress ' d inscriptions in it indicate that t 
was repaired by Saladin. It is popularly known ^LS Saladin's Castle. 


surrounded by fertile fields. As Salt 3 seems to have survived the 
man-y disasters that befell this territory. Although it was in an 
agriculturally rich region, its influence was mainly strategic. 
Abu al Fida described as Salt as "a small town with a castle 
lying among the hills of Ghor, a day's march south of Ajlun. 
It lies opposite Jericho, and the castle holds the Ghor under 

Under Mamluk control the country experienced a plague, 
very heavy taxation, and steady pressure from the bedouins. 
Eventually the Mamluks weakened from within; early in the 
sixteenth century the desert nomads not only took Karak, but 
they even reached Jerusalem. 

The Ottoman Turks 

The power of the Ottoman Turks was meanwhile growing 
and a clash between them and the Mamluks for the hegemony 
of the Muslim world and for the control of Syria was inevitable. 
The decisive battle took place north of Aleppo in 1518, with 
the Turks emerging the victors and the new masters of the 
entire area. 

But even then Transjordan showed no signs of reviving; the 
only change that occurred was the re-establishment of the pil- 
grimage road, somewhat modified, from Damascus to Medina 
and Mecca. Under the direction of Sulaiman the Magnificent 
(1496-1556) the road was shifted eastward almost to the fringe 
of the desert. Following old precedents, forts were built along 
the route to protect the travelers. The Maan fort still bears an 
inscription with Sulaiman's name. 

Since the Ottoman Turks were not able to garrison the forts 
along the pilgrimage road, they resorted to the old Roman 
method of subsidizing the bedouin tribes that roamed through 
the territory* This form of bribery became the established policy 
of the Turkish government. The bribe monies were distributed 
by a special official who accompanied the pilgrims to the holy 
cities. It has been estimated that the amount ran to some 100,000 

3 It is generally believed that the origin of the name as Salt derives from 
the Latin salt us, indicating a wooded area, and that the town was located 
on the site of ancient Ramoth Gilead. 


gold pounds annually. 4 The rest of Transjordan was a roaming 
ground for bedouins until the latter part of the nineteenth 
century, with resultant inter-tribal feuds. Most of the tribes as 
we know them today established themselves during the Turkish 
regime by forcing out earlier tribes, and being in turn forced 
out by succeeding waves. Some became semi-nomadic and claimed 
definite areas. In spite of nominal Turkish sovereignty, the actual 
control of various parts of the territory, until about the latter 
part of the last century, was either in the hands of bedouin 
tribes or in the hands of the ruling families of the few surviving 
towns and villages. 

The Bedouin Tribes 

Outstanding among the early bedouin tribes which made 
their appearance in Transjordan about the middle of the seven- 
teenth century and influenced its modern history were the Beni 
Sakhr, which originated in the southern Hijaz, moved northward 
to the neighborhood of Maan from where they kept pushing 
toward the Balqa. The Balqa was dominated by the Adwan 
tribe, which strenuously resisted the encroachment of the Beni 
Sakhr. 5 The Rawala tribe ranged over an area stretching from 
Syria, Transjordan and into the Hijaz, and although less seden- 
tary than the others, they were nevertheless a force in the tribal 

4 The consequences of this system are illustrated by the following story. 
In 1753 the pasha who led the Hajj held back part of the bribe monies! 
The bedouins considered this a breach of faith and they decided to punish 
the culprit. The following year they refused to allow the pilgrim caravans 
to proceed until their loss of the previous year was rectified. The helpless 
pasha paid. But on hearing of the incident, the Sultan ordered the viceroy 
in Damascus to take action against the bedouins. The bedouin leaders were 
summoned to Damascus where, without further ado, the viceroy had their 
heads cut off and sent to Constantinople. This act o treachery the bedouins 
would not leave unavenged. The entire territory was thrown into disorder. 
The following year, when the pilgrims arrived at Qatrane, one of the forts 
on the route, the nomads fell on them and, according to reports, massacred 
some 2,000 out of the 6,000 in the caravan. 

Peake declared: "Sixty thousand pilgrims are said to haVe been robbed 
and dispersed in the desert and, of course, some twenty thousand were 
either killed by the Beduin or died of hunger, while many of the women 
were enslaved." F. G. Peake, A History of Transjordan and Its Tribes 
(Amman, 1954), mimeographed, 193. 

5 The Adwan, in spite of help given them by the Turks, were finally 
forced, in 1812, to migrate to Ajluu and to leave the Beni Sakhr undisputed 
masters of the Balqa. 


struggles in the north. Also originating in the Hijaz and con- 
centrated on the sounthern side of the Dead Sea were the Beni 
Atiya, while east of them roamed the Huwaitat. The Beni 
Hassan were the most northerly, and concentrated around Ajlun. 
The tribal wars endangered the settled elements of the north 
and made the area insecure for travel and commerce. As a 
consequence, the only activity was the annual pilgrimage, and 
that was undertaken with great difficulty and at great expense. 
Ottoman control over the outlying provinces of the Empire 
was precarious, but once in a while a strong and energetic pasha 
would attempt to bring about a greater measure of security. 
Such a governor was Ahmad "al Jazzer" (the Butcher) who was 
pasha of Acre and who established authority throughout the 
area, including Transjordan, at the end of the eighteenth cen- 

In Karak, the chief urban center of the territory, conditions 
were no better. The Majali family, which came from Hebron, 
ruled the town and its vicinity as absolute tyrants, recognizing 
no authority but their own. All opposition was methodically 
and ruthlessly crushed. The Majalis first joined hands with the 
Amr tribe and together they massacred their chief enemy, the 
Imamiya. Then, they called on the Beni Sakhr to help them 
reduce the Amr tribe; the latter fled to the Adwan in the Balqa. 
When Ibrahim Pasha entered Karak, the Majalis fled, but after 
Ibrahim was forced to leave, they returned and again called on 
the Beni Sakhr. From then until the Ottoman attempt to gain 
control of Karak at the end of the last century, the Majalis 
ruled supreme. 

Whatever order al Jazzer brought to Transjordan was wiped 
out after his death in 1804. The last episode in the history of 
the territory before its reorganization under the Ottoman regime 
took place in the struggle between the rising star in Egypt, 
Muhammad Ali, and the declining power of the Sultans of 
Constantinople. In 1831 Muhammad Ali declared war on Tur- 
key, and his son Ibrahim Pasha invaded Syria and established 
Egyptian rule. Because of its importance as the connecting link 
between Syria and Egypt, Transjordan received his especial 
attention; Ibrahim Pasha tried to restore security and reduce 
the power of the bedouins. He took Karak after two sieges and 
cleared the entire area of brigands. Settlers started to come in, 


and many people from Damascus and Samaria began to migrate 
to Transjordan. But the regime did not last long. As a result 
of the intervention of the European powers, Ibrahim Pasha 
was forced in 1841 to evacuate Syria, and conditions in Trans- 
Jordan soon reverted to the previous state of chaos. 


Modern scholars believe that Karak is located on the site of 
the ancient Biblical Qir Moab, or Qir Hareseth, the major or 
capital city of Moab. During the Hasmonean period it was 
known as Karak Moba, which in Syriac means the Fortress of 
Moab. The old city was destroyed, and the Nabateans built a 
new fortress on its foundations. In the Byzantine period it was 
included in Palestina Tertia and was the seat of an archbish- 
opric; in patristic literature it appears as Kraka de Moba. Like 
many of the other cities of Transjordan, it was destroyed in the 
Muslim invasion. The Crusaders rebuilt the city on the founda- 
tions of the Nabatean fortress, and it soon became the capital 
of Oultre Jourdain. The Crusaders apparently thought that it 
was located on the site of ancient Petra and sometimes called 
it Pierre du Desert. The castle, still extant, is to a large degree 
that which the Crusaders erected. It stands on the top of a hill 
through which was dug an almost vertical tunnel by means of 
which water was brought into the city. Salah ad Din captured 
Karak from the Crusaders in 1188; Malik al Adal al Ayyubi 
repaired and re-fortified it and made it the seat of his court, 
as well as the refuge for Ayyubis. 

Medieval Arab writers were impressed by Karak as an impreg- 
nable fortress in the service of Islam. Yakut said: "Al Karak is 
a very strongly fortified castle on the borders of Syria towards 
the Balqa Province." Abu al Fida wrote: "Al Karak is a cele- 
brated town with a very high fortress, one of the most unassail- 
able of the fortresses of Syria." Dimaski (about 1300 A.D.) re- 
ported: "Karak is an impregnable fortress standing high on the 
summit of a mountain. ... it 15 now the treasure house of the 
Turks." Ibn Batutah visited the town in 1355 and wrote: "Al 
Karak is one of the largest and most celebrated fortresses." 
Because of its strategic location on the road from Egypt to 
Syria and its impregnable position, one can readily understand 






88 A OF 

why it was the desired prize of the rival forces of Egypt and 
Syria. 6 

6GIueck, The River Jordan, 84-85; Guy Le Strange, Palestine Under the 
Muslims (London, 1890), 479; William Libbey and Franklin E. Hoskins, The 
Jordan Valley and Petra (London, 1905), 329. 

Chapter VI 

The Eastern Question 

THE "EASTERN QUESTION" was no doubt one of the 
major preoccupations of the European powers during the 
nineteenth century. It was an issue in the relations be- 
tween the European powers and the Ottomans, but even more, 
it was a constant factor in the relations between the European 
powers themselves, individually and in groupings. The constant 
clashes between Turkey and Russia, the rivalry between the 
European countries for privileged positions in the Turkish 
Empire, and the efforts of every European power to restrain the 
others from making headway in the dismemberment of Turkey 
and reversing advantages won, resulted in a progressive weaken- 
ing of the Ottoman regime both from within as well as from 
without. Perhaps as a natural counteraction Constantinople 
made numerous, though spasmodic, attempts at reforms and at 
extending and strengthening the authority of the central gov- 
ernment; it made some efforts to bring order and administration 
where before there had been only half-hearted, lackadaisical 
manifestations of authority. In retrospect it would seem that 
none of the measures were vigorous, persistent or systematic 
enough to halt the inevitable collapse of the "sick man of 

Be that as it may, the history of Transjordan since the ejection 
of Ibrahim Pasha from Syria was a series of attempts to extend 
governmental authority, beginning in the north and moving 
consistently southward; to reduce the bedouin tribes to obedi- 
ence; increase the settlement opportunities of the territory; and 
integrate it as a vital element in a single Islamic or pan-Islamic 



Attempts at Extending Governmental Authority 

Immediately after Ibrahim Pasha left, conditions became 
chaotic. The bedouins became the absolute rulers and inter- 
tribal wars made travel or settlement in Transjordan impossible. 
The Turks tried to maintain some semblance of order. Soon, 
however, Turkey was too preoccupied with the Crimean War 
to pay attention to the backward outlying areas of the Empire. 
Only after the war, in 1857, did they begin to strengthen their 
administrative hold on Transjordan. Moving southward from 
Damascus, they established a qaimmaqam in Ajlun. The next 
position to be occupied was as Salt, in the Balqa, Although it 
was one of the most permanent population centers, as Salt was 
a fiercely independent village which recognized no outside 
authority. After Ibrahim Pasha took the place by assault, he 
installed an Arab shaikh as governor. The resentment of the 
Saltese was so great that they cut off the shaikh's head and sent 
it to the pasha as an expression of their anger. To establish 
their authority in the Balqa, the Turks had to overcome the 
Beni Sakhr who were terrorizing the entire area, and two 
military expeditions were sent against them in 1867 and 1869. 1 
It was only after the defeat of the Beni Sakhr that as Salt became 
a center of Turkish governmental authority from which new 
villages and outlying farms began to radiate. 

At about this time Irbid (ancient Arbella), which had been 
a bedouin pasturing ground for centuries, was re-established, 
and in 1875 it became a seat of local government. When Lau- 
rence Oliphant visited Irbid in the late 1870's he found a 
population of about three hundred. As Salt's population was 
about six thousand, and Oliphant says that as Salt became an 
entrepdt for the whole region and the central meeting place for 
pilgrims making the Hajj. 

1 Tristram reported (about 1864) that as Salt was and had been for several 
generations completely independent from the Sultan and that it was governed 
by a council in which the native Christians were represented. The relations 
of the Saltese with the neighboring bedouins were "somewhat defiant"; they 
had to pay a heavy annual tribute to the Adwan to protect them from the 
molestations of the Beni Sakhr and others, but they did not allow even their 
protectors to "remain a night in the town or to enter it armed." H. B. Tris- 
tram, The Land of Israel A Journal of Travels in Palestine (London, 1865), 
555. Peake Pasha recorded that Goblan, the notorious Adwan shaikh, feared 
the spread of Turkish power in the Balqa, and when in 1867 the Turks sent 
a governor to as Salt, Goblan resisted him. Peake, A History, 220. 




The Turks also took measures to gain control of Transjordan 
through settlement and establishment of security by bringing 
into the territory a number of Circassians and Chechens. These 
were Muslims who had fled from their homelands during the 
Russo-Turkish war when the Russians occupied the Caucasus. 
They had settled in Bulgaria but had been forced to leave that 
country too. In 1870 the Turks began to send them to Trans- 
Jordan; they gave them land grants and helped them establish 
villages and towns as counterforces against the roaming bedouins. 
Though Muslims, they were of a different ethnic group and 
their language was not Arabic. The bedouins considered them 
usurpers and interlopers. The Circassians, on their part, being 
of a settled civilization, looked on the bedouins as barbarians 
who should be driven back into the desert and not be allowed 
to interfere with the settlement efforts. The Turks hoped that 
the mutual antagonisms would serve their purpose: they would 
be able to establish their authority by sponsoring the settlement 
of the Circassians. 

The Circassians were not numerous, but they began to estab- 
lish villages, moving southward as far as Amman, which they 
re-established in 1877, on the site of ancient Ammon. A year 
later they established another settlement, on the site of ancient 
Gerasa, now called Jarash. They began to cultivate the fields 
and to extend the area of settlement. In the fashion characteristic 
of Transjordan, they built their new villages out of materials 
from the ancient ruins. 2 

2 An eyewitness account of the coining of the Circassians to Amman is 
given by Laurence Oliphant, who visited Amman at the time. "The great 
theater, which was constructed to accommodate 6,000 spectators, and is nearly 
100 yards in breadth, contains forty-three rows of seats, divided into three 
tiers by broad passages (fraecitiones), and the adita leading behind the seats, 
and going completely round the horse-shoe theater, opened upon them. These 
adita, which had become choked by the accumulated rubbish and debris of 
some fourteen or fifteen centuries, the Circassians had cleared out, and 
turned into lodgings for their wives and little ones. Standing at our tent I 
watched their women going in and out of these corridors, once frequented 
by the Roman ladies of fashion. I saw groups of these poor exiles in their 
ragged but picturesque attire, haunted by the persecution of a Christian 
nation from one country to another, to make way for what we call civiliza- 
tion, at last taking reLuge in those very vaults where, eighteen centuries 
before, persecuted Christians used to be confined previous to ministering by 
their sufferings to the cruel instincts and the bigotry of another civilization 
and another religion. On the floor of the old forum, whose eight noble 
Corinthian columns are still standing, at which toga'd dignitaries used to 







exert their eloquence, two pretty little Circassian girls were weeding onions. 
A man was ploughing in and out between beautiful carved pedestals, cursing 
the ornamented fragments of stone which he turned up, to the detriment of 
the plough and his furrows. The walls of a small and elegantly-shaped little 
Greek temple, by the help of some of the half columns still remaining erect, 
was turned into a very satisfactory cattle-pen. Three beautifully carved 
Corinthian capitals, placed on their broadest side, made very good stepping 
stones." Oliphant, The Land of Gilead, 252-253. 














Madeba Settlement 

South of Amman settlement was extended by another group. 
The relations between the ruling Muslim family in Karak and 
the Christian community there were always strained. The 
Christians were suspected of working with the Turks. After 
much suffering at the hands of the ruling Majali family, they 
finally obtained permission from the Turkish government to 
establish a colony on the ancient site of Madeba, some twenty- 
five miles south-southwest of Amman. The same year the 
Circassians arrived in Amman, the Karak Christians began to 
establish themselves in Madeba. They encountered stubborn 
opposition from the Beni Sakhr who claimed the territory as 
their grazing ground and refused to recognize the Turkish 
government's right to grant permission to the Christians to 
settle on it. Nevertheless, the Christians managed to gain a 
precarious foothold in Madeba. 3 

3 Madeba is one of the oldest cities in Transjordan: it flourished under 
the ancient Moabites, it was taken by the Israelites, re-taken by Mesha, king 
of Moab, and subsequently was reoccupied by the Jews returning from 
Babylonia. During the Greek period it became a center settled by Arabians, 
and during the period of the Maccabees it was one of the major battlefields 
won by the Jews and which was established as a Jewish stronghold. It was 
taken later by the Nabateans, and in 105 AJ>. it became a Roman city. During 
the later Roman period it flourished as a Christian center and was an Epis- 
copal See. The height of its prosperity was apparently reached during the 
fourth and fifth centuries; mention of its Bishop was made at the Council of 
Chalcedon (451 AJ>) It was finally destroyed either early in the seventh cen- 
tury by the Persian Chrosroes, or a little later by the Arabs. From then until 
it was restored in 1880 Madeba practically disappeared. 

Most of the ruins that can be seen today in Madeba are directly traceable 
to the Byzantine period when the city was built on the foundation of an 
earlier Roman town, which in turn had been built on the ruins of the 
settlement that the Romans took from the Nabateans. 

Southeast of the town there is a wadi that turns eastward. Here there is one 
of the most remarkable achievements of the ancient Transjordanians. A mass 
of masonry across the valley forms the sustaining wall of a very large reservoir 
which is itself of extraordinary workmanship. The reservoir is about 120 yards 
square and on each side there is a completely finished flight of steps. The 
lower wall, 30 feet thick at the base, narrows gradually to 18 feet at the top. 
(The present Transjordan government had this ancient reservoir, neglected 
for centuries, cleaned out and restored to its original purpose.) 

But Madeba is perhaps best celebrated for the famous Madeba map. When 
the Greek Orthodox Christians of Karak came to Madeba, they chose as the 
site of their new town the ruins of an old basilica around which they built 
their homes. In 1884 a Greek monk from Transjordan wrote to the Greek 
Patriarch of Jerusalem about a mosaic pavement at Madeba which contained 
the names of cities such as Jerusalem and others. The Patriach paid no atten- 
tion to this information. His successor found the monk's letter in 1890; realiz- 


Bedouin Rule 

Despite everything the Turkish government did, the country 
was still dominated by the bedouins, and the annual pilgrimage 
to Mecca was still at the mercy o the tribes along the route. 
Volney reported in 1875 that for the safety of the Hajj, which 
was the responsibility of the Pasha of Damascus, "eighteen 
hundred purses must be paid to the Arab tribes, who dwell near 
the road to secure a free passage." , 

As late as 1882 Conder reported that two tribes practically 
controlled the area. One were the Adwan, who claimed the 
Jordan Valley and Mt. Gilead to the Jabbok and further south 
even to the Zarqa Main as their territory. The other, to the east 
and southeast, were the Beni Sakhr, more powerful than the 
Adwan, whose territory they entered at will to water their 
camels. While the Adwan possessed mostly sheep, goats and 
cows and thus were restricted in the range of their roaming, the 
Beni Sakhr owned mostly camels, and thus their range was much 
greater. Some of the Adwan shaikhs, since they possessed the 
most fertile land of the area, engaged in agriculture to some 
extent, by having their fields worked by the peasants of the 
Ghor or peasants from the western side of the Jordan. 4 

ing that the mosaic might be important, he ordered that if it could be found 
it should be included within the church which was to be built in Madeba. At 
that time the mosaic was still intact. The builder sent from Jerusalem to erect 
the church, failing to appreciate the mosaic or perhaps incapable of under- 
standing its importance, but anxious to build the new church on the founda- 
tions of the old basilica, drove a column in the center of the pavement and 
seriously ruined the mosaic. On his return to Jerusalem he reported to the 
Patriarch that the mosaic was of no significance whatsoever. In December 1896 
the librarian of the Greek Patriarchate, Father Kleopas Koikylides, visited 
Madeba and came back with a report of a great archeological discovery the 
mosaic was an illustrated map of the then known eastern world and had been 
executed at about the fifth century. It occupied the whole door of the church 
about fifty feet long and twenty-five feet wide. The part that was salvaged 
from the almost criminal act of the builder is one of the greatest discoveries 
in Transjordan, second only to the Mesha Stone. 

4 Conder described the character of the bedouin: "The Arab is an unim- 
provable savage, with all the craft, the cruelty, the deceit, and the cowardice 
which are usual among savages, and with all the affectation of courage, nobil- 
ity, and honesty which is equally common to the wild races. When civilization 
is at a low ebb, and government is weak, the Bedawi chief flourishes and 
spreads terror; before a strong settled population he retreats to the howling 
wilderness, which he does not love, or sinks to the level of a poor cultivator or 
despised 'cousin of gypsies/ " C. R. Conder, Heth nd Moab. Exploration in 
Syria in 18S1 and 1882 (London, 1892), 354-355. 

s ps*r 


Turkish Administrative Organization 

By 1870 the Turkish Empire was divided into vilayets, the 
vilayets into sanjaqs, and the sanjaqs into kazas. Syria and 
Palestine were vilayets; the sanjaq of Lebanon was under a 
special status. However, in 1880 the vilayet of Syria was broken 
up into three parts the vilayets of Aleppo, Damascus and 
Beirut, and the independent sanjaq of Jerusalem, which was 
controlled directly from Constantinople by the Minister of the 
Interior. Transjordan comprised parts of the vilayets of Beirut 
and Damascus. The latter was subdivided into four sanjaqs: 
Hama, Damascus, Hauran and Karak. Hauran included Ajlun 
and as Salt, and Karak comprised the area mostly south of 
Amman. Later on, as Salt was detached from Hauran and added 
to Karak. The territory south of the Zarqa down to the Mojib was 
under the control of the pasha of Nablus, who was under the 
vilayet of Beirut. This area corresponded roughly to the Perea 
of Greek and Roman times and was, as it had been then, 
attached to the territory on the western side of the Jordan rather 
than to Syria. 

The Turks were now pushing southward. The major ob- 
jective was Karak, which boasted that it had never been 
conquered. The tyrannical conduct of the rulers of Karak was 
copiously described by those travelers of the middle part of the 
last century who had dared enter the territory, and especially 
by those who, not under the "protection*' of the Majali family, 
had ventured into the city. 5 In 1893 a Turkish military expedi- 
tion took the city. The Sultan immediately established the sub- 
district of Maan, with a governor resident at Karak and a 
military garrison stationed in the citadel under the control of 
the Wali of the vilayet of Damascus. A police garrison was 
established in the village of Maan. Five years later Shobek fell 
into Turkish hands; the government built a telegraph line from 
Damascus to Medina and Mecca via Transjordan and thus 

5 During the visit of H. B. Tristram and his entourage to Karak in 1872, 
serious trouble developed between the visitors and the governor's son, to 
whom Tristram refused to pay an exorbitant ransom. The guide of the Tris- 
tram group, Mr. Klein, said: "Then we will go to the Pasha/' The governor's 
son coolly replied: "What can the Pasha do here? We are lords here and care 
less than nothing for pashas and sultans." Tristram, The Land of Moab, 99. 
Tristram's entire experience in Moab is enlightening. For conditions in the 
early 'nineties, see A. Forder, With the Arabs in Tent and Town {London. 
[1902]), 8-11, 76-78. X 


attempted to make its hold on the territory firmer. Nevertheless, 
safety and security were much more precarious in Transjordan 
than on the western side. Libby and Hoskins concluded, after 
their travels in the country of Transjordan early in this century: 
"And so it remains to the present day. On the western bank is 
comparative safety, while just over the narrow stream is no 
man's land where theft, bloodshed and murder are the common- 
est everyday occurrence." 6 

The Hijaz Railway 

A practical, workable means of connecting Constantinople 
with the holy cities of Arabia had been preoccupying the Turk- 
ish government ever since the termination of the Russo-Turkish 
war. A railroad along this route would bring the outlying prov- 
inces of the empire in close contact with Constantinople and 
would strengthen the Sultan's religious authority over the diverse 
peoples of the empire. Such a railroad would have great military 
importance as it would enable the central government to rush 
troops to any area which might be causing trouble, and it would 
raise Turkey's prestige in the eyes of the outside world. However, 
for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the slowness 
with which Turkish governmental machinery moved, the rail- 
road, first projected as early as 1864, did not become an actuality 
until the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid. That ruler realized the 
value of pan-Islamism as an instrumentality for strengthening 
Turkey against internal divisions and against external forces, 
and he felt that a railroad to the holy cities would be an impor- 
tant means of developing pan-Islamism. The railroad as such 
was to be utilized to strengthen Constantinople; the methods 
of financing it would serve the same purpose. The original plans 
called for the construction of a line from Damascus through 
Transjordan and ultimately to Mecca. Early in the century when 
the Sultan announced the plan, he called on Muslims throughout 
the world to contribute voluntarily toward the building of the 
road. It was estimated that it would cost about 4,000,000 Turkish 
gold liras. Work began on April 12, 1900. Since the railroad was 
to be used exclusively for religious purposes, the original plans 
called for the employment of only Muslim workers and builders. 
However, Muslim workers could not be found in sufficient num- 

6 Libbey and Hoskins, The Jordan Valley of Palestine, I, 152. 


bers, so the plans were modified: the part o the road in the 
Holy Land of Hijaz was to be built by Muslims only; the rest 
would be done in association with non-Muslim technicians. The 
route followed very closely the old pilgrimage road along the 
fringe of the desert, and the old forts and fortresses became the 
railroad stations. The voluntary contributions were not sufficient 
to meet the cost of building the road, and the Turkish govern- 
ment resorted to a variety of stamps and imposts. A stamp levy 
on every petition presented to the government was followed by 
a stamp to be used on every public and private document; a 
house tax was levied first on every building in Constantinople 
and then on every building in the provinces. Then the Sultan 
imposed a special tax on every Muslim male in the empire, and 
the Turkish journals advocated that all devout Muslims outside 
the empire voluntarily tax themselves in a similar fashion. But 
four years after construction began, only about one-fourth the 
total projected cost had been raised. 

On September 1, 1904, Sultan Abdul Hamid's birthday, the 
Damascus-Amman section, 470 kilometers, was opened to traffic. 
This was a little less than one-third of the total distance to 
Medina. A branch line from Haifa was connected at Deraa; 
the plan called for branch lines from Maan to Aqaba, and from 
Aqaba to the Suez Canal. In 1908 the section from Amman to 
Medina was completed. 7 

Revolt in Karak 

Even with the extension of Turkish power through the Hijaz 
railroad, the more southerly inhabitants of Transjordan were 
not ready to submit tamely to Turkish control. For purposes 
of conscription and taxation, the Turkish government began 

7 The original plans called for the extension of the main line from Medina 
to Mecca, with branch lines from Medina to Janbo, and from Mecca to Jidda. 
The Turks never attempted to carry the plans through. The reason, according 
to King Abdullah, was the strenuous opposition of his father, Sharif Husain, 
to the Mecca-Medina line. Husain argued that the railway would deprive the 
bedouin of their livelihood in transporting and guiding pilgrims. Since pil- 
grim transportation also provided a lucrative income to the Sharif, his oppo- 
sition might have been based on personal grounds. In view of the general 
objective of the Turks and their suspicions of Husain's loyalty, his opposition 
would have been the more reason for Constantinople to insist on carrying the 
line to the very heart of ArabiaMecca. The financial difficulties encountered 
in building the road up to Medina were enough to deter the Turks from 
proceeding on to Mecca. 


in 1908 to conduct a census of the population of the Karak 
district. The population was naturally suspicious of the govern- 
ment's motives; this, combined with their superstitious fear of 
counting people, caused them to rise in open rebellion. The 
revolt was put down with great severity; some of the tribal 
leaders were thrown to their death from the battlements of the 
Crusaders' castle. 8 

Meanwhile, Constantinople took new measures to strengthen 
its administration of Transjordan. In 1905 the Balqa, hitherto 
governed by the pasha of Nablus, became part of the Syrian 
vilayet. With the completion of the railway to Maan, that city 
became the seat of a qaimmaqam, and its police station became 
a military garrison. Shobek and Tafilah became the government 
seats of the ash Shara area and the al Jabal area, respectively, 
of the Maan sanjaq. 

Thus, before the outbreak of World War I, Turkish rule in 
Transjordan had progressed considerably since Constantinople's 
first efforts in the late eighteen-fifties to bring the territory under 
some measure of control. There were now many more towns 
and villages; there was much more cultivation, by peasants who 
had come over from western Palestine and even by some of the 
tribesmen themselves. Military garrisons in some of the towns 
introduced a measure of security, and the Hijaz railway was a 
transportation link which consolidated the territory as an impor- 
tant factor in the structure of the empire. The greater security 
and the railway reduced the pilgrimage cost. Nevertheless, the 
Turkish government never actually attempted to bring the 
bedouins in the area under control, or to convert them into 
semi-sedentary or sedentary elements. From time to time the 
authorities would undertake punitive expeditions when a tribe 
committed an outrage against another tribe or against the 
settled population, but by and large the territory, particularly 
the southern part, remained mostly a roaming ground for the 
bedouins. The sparsely settled population was subjected to the 
excesses of the bedouins, and to khuwwah (protection payments). 
At the outbreak of World War I Transjordan assumed strategic 
importance both to the Turks and to the Entente powers. 

8 For a detailed account of the result of the Karaki uprising, see A. Forder, 
In Brigands' Hands and Turkish Prisons 1914-1918 (London, [1920]), 125-137; 
W. Verkade, "Der Aufstand von Kerak," Das Heili$e Land, LV, 138-149, 1911. 

Chapter VII 


Traditional British Policy 

Disraeli returned from the Congress of Berlin (1878) 
with Cyprus as the prize for British efforts on behalf of 
Turkey, was traditionally that of upholding and maintaining 
the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. By preventing the demise 
of the "sick man of Europe" and establishing themselves firmly 
along the route of their Empire Malta, Cyprus and Egypt, 
as well as in the Persian Gulf area the British had not only 
secured for themselves a sure access to India and the Far East, 
but they had also successfully stopped Russia from breaking 
through the Middle East and overruning the Persian Gulf and 
eastern Mediterranean. Similarly, they had checked the French 
from extending their influence in the supposed traditional 
French sphere, the Levant; and they had held back the advance 
of the Germans, in spite of their drang nach Osten. At the same 
time the British were not unwilling to offer accommodations 
to their competitors, thus preventing them from becoming 
powerful opponents. As late as March 1914 the British signed 
an agreement with the Germans granting the latter a share in 
the exploitation of the petroleum resources of the Turkish 
Empire. With the first World War rapidly approaching and the 
alignments of the European powers becoming clear, London 
hoped that Turkey would be kept out of the conflict and that 
part of the world would not be disturbed by the war. The 
Minister of War, Enver Pasha, had signed a military alliance 
with Germany on July SI, 1914, but the British, either unaware 
of this, or in spite of it, offered Turkey a guarantee of her 
integrity in return for a declaration of neutrality. British dip- 
lomacy was frantically active in Constantinople, but to no avail. 
On November 5, Great Britain declared war against Turkey. 



Britain in Search of New Policy 

A new Middle Eastern policy now had to be formulated. 
Russia, as a member of the Entente, was pressing for her old 
dream, Constantinople and the Straits; France was demanding 
Syria; and on December '18 Britain herself had proclaimed Egypt 
a British protectorate. The dismemberment of the Ottoman 
Empire was now a certainty. This raised serious problems. The 
Sultan was not only the head of the Ottoman Empire; he was 
also the Caliph, the religious head of all Muslims, and within 
his dominions were located all the shrines and holy cities of 
Islam. The reaction of the Muslims (especially in India and 
Egypt) to the fall of Constantinople might be disastrous to the 
Allies in general, and to Great Britain in particular. After 
considerable thought, the younger oriental experts in the For- 
eign Office concluded that a Muslim substitute center for 
Constantinople had to be found, a center around which would 
rally all Muslims, headed by those who were discontented with 
the Turkish regime. 

The policies of the different sections of the British govern- 
ment as regards the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire were 
not coordinated. The Indian government, immediately con- 
cerned about its 80,000,000 Muslims, first warned against de- 
claring war on Turkey and when war was declared, it urged the 
London government against any plan to dismember or to 
upset the Sultan's empire. Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy of India, 
officially proclaimed in the first week of November 1914 that 
the Arab and Mesopotamian holy cities, including Jidda, would 
remain outside the theater of war operations. But once the 
Indian government realized that dismemberment of the Otto- 
man Empire was inevitable, it adopted a very extreme course: 
it planned for a British military occupation of the most important 
part of Mesopotamia, which would ultimately be annexed. This 
would give Britain absolute control of the outlet to the Persian 
Gulf. Lord Hardinge entered immediately into negotiations with 
the Shaikh of Kuwait, with al Adrissi and Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, 
Sultan of Najd, for the protection of the Gulf itself. On Decem- 
ber 25, 1915 a treaty was signed with Ibn Saud which provided 
that Great Britain would guarantee Ibn Saud's territories; that 
he was to have the same friends and the same enemies as Britain; 
and that his foreign relations would be controlled by Britain. 


The main hookup between Great Britain and the Arabian 
Peninsula became the Sultan of Najd. 

The Foreign Office in London pursued a different line. Con- 
stantinople must be replaced by a new Muslim center and 
ultimately the Sultan by a new Caliph. Such a development 
would forestall a possible Muslim uprising within the British 
Empire and Great Britain would emerge as the benevolent pro- 
tector of Islam. The Arabian Peninsula soon became the locus 
of the new Islamic empire, with Mecca, the holiest Muslim city, 
as its center, and the Sharif of Mecca as the possible new Caliph. 

The background for this new development would almost seem 
to have been prearranged. The Sharif of Mecca, Husain Ibn Ali, 
was known to the oriental staff of the British Residency in Cairo 
through his son Abdullah. They knew that the Sharif had been 
toying with the possibility of pressuring the Sultan for conces- 
sions, and even perhaps of rebelling against him if he had the 
proper encouragementBritish arms and gold. 

Husain of Mecca and His Sons 

Husain Ibn AH claimed descent from Fatima, the daughter 
of the Prophet, and as head of the House of Hashim, he was 
the guardian of the holy places in the Hijaz. As a young man 
Husain had been very ambitious, and his ambitions had led 
to a dispute with his uncle, the Amir of Mecca. The Turks 
suspected his ambitions for leadership of the Arabs and for the 
Caliphate. In 1891 they "invited" him to Constantinople as the 
guest of the Sultan, and he was to be accompanied by his family. 
He came with his three sons, Ali, Abdullah, and Faisal. By 
bringing Husain to the capital the Turks achieved a double 
purpose: they removed him from Mecca and thus weakened his 
hold on the holy city, and they had him under constant surveil- 
lance. Furthermore, his sons were of school age (Abdullah was 
only nine years old) and would be properly educated under the 
guidance of the Sultan's authorities. This subsequently served 
them in good stead. In addition to their Arabic culture and 
background, the young amirs got a knowledge of Turkish and 
the culture of a settled European civilization, and some military 

It would seem that Ali, the oldest son, was reserved, less 
ambitious than his brothers and not as brilliant. Abdullah was 


the most aggressive; he was a hedonist, given to pleasure, and 
in traditional fashion, greatly interested in poetry and horses. 
He was active in some of the Arab literary societies in Constan- 
tinople, and even participated in some of the semi-secret Arab 
national organizations there. He always felt that he was the most 
important member of the family and could advise and guide in 
matters political as well as military. The youngest of the three, 
Faisal, the most scholarly and serious, was very active in Arab 
nationalist underground activity in Constantinople; he made 
the most of his military training. 

For fifteen years the family lived in Constantinople under 
the watchful eyes of the Sultan's secret agents. In 1908 the 
Young Turk revolution took place and the following year 
Husain returned to Mecca as its Amir, and Abdullah returned 
with him. In 1912 Abdullah was named deputy from Mecca 
to the Turkish Parliament, and on his way to Constantinople 
that year he stopped off in Cairo and met Lord Kitchener in 
the Khedive's palace. Subsequently Abdullah became vice- 
chairman of the Parliament, and his brother Faisal became a 
deputy from Jidda. 

Hashimite Ambitions and Schemes 

Although Husain cooperated with Constantinople after the 
Young Turks restored him to Mecca, he apparently did not 
give up his ambitions; however, these were not reduced to clearly 
defined objectives. He may have wanted a greater autonomy for 
himself as ruler of Mecca, which would have made it possible 
for him to obtain greater revenue; he may have wanted greater 
security against harassment from the Sultan of Najd and his 
fanatic Wahhabis; he may have wanted a complete break with 
the Turks and the establishment of an independent Arab king- 
dom of the Hijaz, or, not stopping there, may even have seen 
himself as king of all the Arabs, as Caliph, who would restore 
the Golden Age of Islam. His sons, especially Faisal and Abdul- 
lah, were no doubt aware of his ambitions and saw themselves 
cast in important roles either within the Turkish Empire or 
outside it. They, too, never actually formulated their hopes 
since they could not, under the circumstances, see how any of 
the various possibilities could be realized. Moreover, in a fashion 
typical of desert tradition, they thought always in terms of a 


maximum but would have been satisfied with less than the 
minimum. So father and sons waited for an opportunity to realize 
their hopes and ambitions. The approaching war was such an 
opportunity. Turkey would no doubt sign with the Central 
Powers. What would the Entente Powers be willing to offer 
for a revolt or something like it, against the Turks? Or what 
concessions could be wrung from the Turks under threat of 
joining the Entente Powers? 

When Abdullah stopped off in Cairo, in April 1914, on his 
way from Constantinople to Mecca, he was again received by 
Lord Kitchener. But the hints he dropped were not picked up; 
Kitchener adhered strictly to the British policy of maintaining 
the integrity of the Ottoman Empire and gave no encourage- 
ment for attempts at rebellion. A later meeting between Abdul- 
lah and the Oriental Secretary of the Residency, Ronald Storrs, 
was not much more fruitful. Abdullah, however, was franker; 
he asked whether Great Britain would present the Sharif with 
a dozen machine guns; to the question as to the purpose of the 
guns, Abdullah replied that they would be for defense against 
an attack by the Turks. Storrs made it clear that Britain could 
not entertain the idea of supplying arms to be used against 

Negotiations for a Revolt 

Although Abdullah could not have been encouraged by the 
results of his first feelers, he did lay the ground for what was 
later to emerge as the Arab Revolt. When Turkey entered the 
war, Kitchener, then Secretary of State for War in London, 
ordered Ronald Storrs to contact Husain to discuss an Arab 
revolt against the Turks. The new British Middle East policy 

1 Characteristic of Abdullah's state of mind at that time is the following 
pian which he worked out after he failed to obtain Kitchener's support. Dur- 
ing the pilgrimage to Mecca he would call on the various tribes to kidnap pil- 
grims, among whom would be important personalities from Turkey, Egypt, 
India, Java, Eritrea and Algiers. These hostages would arouse the concern of 
the Great Powers, who would bring pressure on Constantinople to secure 
their release. Constantinople would not be able to take military action against 
the Hijaz and would either have to make concessions to the Sharif or confess 
its impotence. Should the latter alternative be the case, Abdullah would 
appeal to the foreign states and offer to release the hostages in return for a 
guarantee of immunity from Turkey. Abdullah abandoned this plan after 
Faisal persuaded his father not to support it. T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of 
Wisdom (New York, 1935), 73-74. 


was concentrated on Mecca, with the Hashimi family as the 
executing instrumentality. The members of the Oriental staff 
of the British Residency in Cairo became busy; Storrs was 
primarily responsible for contacts and negotiations, and T. E. 
Lawrence for military developments. 

Negotiations between the British High Commissioner in 
Egypt, Sir Henry MacMahon, and Sharif Husain of Mecca pro- 
ceeded in a desultory manner. The Sharif s original demands 
were highly exaggerated, but there were many clear indications 
that he would ultimately be willing to settle for very much 
less. The reaction of the British depended, however, on the 
fortunes of war on other fronts. The price Husain would be 
requested to pay immediately in return for British promises, 
military assistance and a large amount of gold would have been 
an open revolt against Turkey, the timing to be determined 
by the allied military position on the European front. Once 
the importance of a diversionary effort had been decided upon, 
the tempo of the correspondence was speeded up and quickly 

The MacMahon Correspondence 

The two important aspects of the correspondence were: 

1) The demand of the Sharif, in his letter of July 14, 1915, of 
which the decisive paragraph was: 

England to acknowledge the independence of the Arab coun- 
tries bounded on the north by Mersina and Adana up to 37 of 
latitude on which degree border Birjik, Urfa, Mardin, Midiat, 
Amadiya Island (Jezireh) up to the border of Persia; on the east 
by the borders of Persia up to the Gulf of Basra; on the south, 
by the Indian Ocean, with the exception of the position of 
Aden to remain as it is; on the west, by the Red Sea, the 
Mediterranean Sea up to Mersina. 

2) The final reply of Sir Henry, of October 24, 1915: 

The districts of Mersina and Alexandretta and the portions 
of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Horns, 
Kama and Aleppo cannot be said to be purely Arab, and shall 
be excluded from the proposed limits and boundaries. With the 
jabove modification, and without prejudice to our existing treaties 
with Arab chiefs we accept these limits and boundaries, and in 
regard to those portions of the territories therein in which Great 
Britain is free to act without detriment to the interests of her 


ally, France, I am empowered in the name of the Government 
of Great Britain to give the following assurance and make the 
following reply to your letter: 

Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared 
10 recognize and support the independence of the Arabs within 
the territories included in the limits and boundaries proposed 
by the Sherif of Mecca. 

There can be no doubt that Husain's original demands were 
as fantastic as the reply of the British was vague, obscure and 
indefinite, and both the Sharif and Sir Henry intentionally 
made them so. Be that as it may, these two passages were the 
only basic understanding between the British and the Sharif, 
and consequently the rebellion against the Turks took place. 

In the course of the correspondence, the Sharif, without the 
British asking for it, outlined the favored position the British 
would occupy in the future independent Arab state. The 
privileges Husain offered practically amounted to an indirect 
British protectorate over the proposed state. This fitted ideally 
with the schemes of empire of the young orientalists in the 
Foreign Office; a very advantageous position would be gained 
for the protection and maintenance of the lifeline of empire 
without offending the sensibilities of the Arab leaders; on the 
contrary, they would be most grateful to the British for their 
great efforts. The royal family, King Husain and his sons, would 
work faithfully with the British to hold the entire Muslim 

The New Islamic State 

The establishment of an independent Islamic state in Arabia 
became .the keystone of British policy. In the so-called "Con- 
stantinople Agreement" of March 18, 1915 between England, 
France and Russia, it was provided that the sacred Muham- 
madan places were to be protected and that, Arabia was to 
become an independent Muslim state. Again, in the secret 
Treaty of London, signed on April 26, 1915 between Great 
Britain, France, Russia and Italy regarding the latter's entry 
into the war, Article 12 stated: "Italy declares that she asso- 
ciates herself in the declaration made by France, Great Britain, 
and Russia to the effect that Arabia and the Moslem Holy Places 
in Arabia shall be left under the authority of an independent 
Moslem Power." 


The French soon began to press for their special position in 
Syria. Although allied with the British in the war against the 
Central Powers, they were antagonistic to British inroads in 
the Middle East. Especially since the completion o the Suez 
Canal in 1869, the French had felt that Egypt was their exclusive 
sphere of influence, but their reluctance to cooperate in occupy- 
ing Egypt in 1882 practically eliminated them from that country 
and made it possible for the British to become the sole and 
supreme force there. The tension between these two powers 
over Egypt mounted constantly, until it culminated in the 
Fashoda incident. By 1904 the situation had been somewhat 
eased through the agreement under which the French recognized 
the British position in Egypt, and the British recognized the 
special French position in Morocco. But the French were not 
ready to forget Egypt. With Turkey's entry into the war, they 
were determined to gain Syria, which to them meant from the 
borders of Turkey to the borders of Egypt, to balance England's 
position along the other side of the Suez Canal. 

Anglo-French Differences 

When the British began to talk of an independent Arab state, 
the French were alarmed. While they agreed in principle with 
the need to establish an Arab state, they were not willing to 
go along with the British as to the character of that state or 
federation of states. They were not concerned with the British 
Empire lifelines, nor were they interested in an Islamic substi- 
tute for Constantinople; in fact, they suspected that the talk of 
a new Islamic center was a subterfuge for British aggrandizement 
at French expense. They had their minds made up to have 
Syria as a direct and simple colonial possession which they 
would rule and administer. They would not consent to give 
arms to the Arabs, nor would they allow them to control any 
part of Syria. The British, on the other hand, were willing to 
allow the Arabs to arm themselves and even to permit them 
military control over some territories in Arabia, with the excep- 
tion of Mesopotamia. 

Sykes-Picot Agreement 

In order to arrive at some arrangement with the French based 
on the principle of an independent Muslim state, the two allies 


began to negotiate. Sir Mark Sykes represented the British and 
Georges Picot the French. The result was the Sykes-Picot agree- 
ment of May, 1916, the main provisions of which were: 

1) Britain and France prepared to recognize and protect an 
independent Arab state or confederation of states in the A and 
B zones (A included the interior of Syria; B comprised most of 
the hinterland of Mesopotamia and some part of eastern Pales- 
tine) under the suzerainty of an Arab chief. France in zone A 
and Great Britain in zone B were to have the right of priority 
in enterprises and local loans. In their respective zones, France 
and Great Britain were to supply advisers or foreign officials at 
the request of the Arab state or confederation of states. 

2) France was to control, directly or indirectly, the Blue zone 
(coastal belt from a little north of Haifa to a point west of 
Mersina, including Cilicia and Mosul), and Great Britain was 
to control the Red zone (southern Mesopotamia from the 
Persian Gulf to a line south of Bagdad, and an enclave around 
Haifa and Acre). Both powers were to set up administrations in 
the Blue and Red zones respectively after they had reached 
an understanding with the Arab state or confederation of states. 

3) The Brown zone (Palestine south of Haifa) was to be 
under international administration, the form of which was to 
be decided after consultations with Russia and other allies and 
with the Sharif of Mecca. 

The French were thus agreeing to permit part of Syria to be 
administered by the Arabs, although it was to be definitely under 
French influence. The British had succeeded in realizing their 
objective of an independent Islamic state in Arabia, and at the 
same time gaining for themselves southern Mesopotamia and 
the important port of Haifa on the Mediterranean. These major 
provisions of the Sykes-Picot agreement were the bases for the 
administration of the territory after it was conquered from the 
Turks, as well as the bases for the subsequent mandates. 

Revolt Proclaimed 

Meanwhile in Mecca, on June 5, 1916, two of the sons of 
the Sharif, Ali and Faisal, proclaimed the independence of the 
Arabs from Turkish rule. The revolt was on; British arms and, 
even more, British gold were flowing into the Hijaz. The 
military objective was to besiege the Turkish garrisons in Arabia. 








This had a double purpose: to prevent the Turks from sending 
reinforcements and supplies to their beleaguered forces, and to 
prevent the latter from withdrawing to Palestine, where they 
could be deployed against the British. 

The Turks were quickly cleared out of Mecca; the two major 
Turkish garrisons were in Medina and Taif. Ali and Faisal con- 
centrated on Medina, but they never succeeded in achieving 
the surrender of the garrison; it was not until the signing of 
the Mudros armistice with Turkey on October 30, 1918 that the 
Turks gave it up. Abdullah succeeded in reducing Taif, after 
a prolonged siege, in August 1916. The Arabs' main effort was 
to harass the Turks along the Hijaz railway to prevent com- 
munications between the Turkish forces in Damascus and 

What the contribution of the Sharifian forces toward the 
final Allied victory was, has been and still is a subject of contro- 
versy. Opinion swings from one extreme, attributing to them 
a major and even decisive role in the final victory, to the other, 
which denies them any importance whatsoever. In point of 
fact, the Sharifian forces composed of various bedouin tribes 
trained and equipped by the British and led by Faisal, Ali 
and Abdullah under the guidance of British officers, prominent 
among whom were T. E. Lawrence and F. G. Peake harassed 
the besieged Turkish forces and successfully demolished enough 
sections of the Hijaz railway to make it inoperable. Thus the 
fringe of Transiordan, where the railway ran, became the theatre 
of operations. The local Transjordanians, both sedentary and 
nomadic, hardly took part in the war. 

Faisal and Abdullah 

The leader of the revolt was not Abdullah, the older brother, 
but Faisal, the younger. Both the Arabs and the British, espe- 
cially Lawrence, took particular note of this. Throughout the 
operations, except for the capture of Taif, Abdullah played a 
secondary role. Faisal, with Lawrence's forces, captured Aqaba 
on July 6, 1917. In October, with the assistance of the British 
Royal Air Force, Faisal's army entered Shobek, and in Decem- 
ber it took Tafilah. A counterattack by the combined Turkish- 
German forces based on Karak, on March 6, 1918 compelled the 


Arabs to retire from Tafilah to Shobek, but they reoccupied it 
twelve days later. 

In October 1917, the Egyptian Expeditionary Forces under 
the command of Sir Edmund Allenby attacked the Turks and 
on December 11 triumphantly entered the city of Jerusalem. 
Allenby then turned toward the Jordan, intending to cut off 
the Turks by taking Amman and as Salt, Two attempts across 
the Jordan on March 21 and May 1, 1918 failed, and as a result 
Faisal's northward advance was stopped. On September 25, 1918, 
however, the British succeeded in capturing Amman; Faisal's 
forces were able to advance and they took Deraa, the junction 
of the branch of the Hijaz railway going to Haifa; soon a union 
was effected with the British in the final drive against Damascus. 
On October 3 Faisal, accompanied by Lawrence, entered at 
a gallop into Damascus at the head of some 1,500 Arab soldiers, 
and without d$lay proceeded with the blessing of the British 
but without consulting the French to set up an Arab govern- 

The Territory Conquered 

The area was divided into three parts. Palestine, designated 
Occupied Enemy Territory South (GETS) was placed under 
British administration; the interior of Syria and, loosely, Trans- 
jordan, Occupied Enemy Territory East (OETE), under Faisal; 
and coastal Syria, Occupied Enemy Territory North (OETN) 
under the French. All three were under the military command 
of General Allenby. 

The French were irritated. The presence of British forces in 
Damascus gave the area a definite British complex; moreover, 
the overall military control was held by the British. To the 
French, Faisal was a symbol of British influence and in their 
eyes he represented the British means for reducing French 
influence in Syria. Faisal went to Paris to negotiate with the 
French, but had little success. On September 15, 1919 the British 
reached a new agreement with the French which gave the latter 
supreme military control in Syria; for this, the British obtained 
concessions in Palestine and Mosul. 

Now the French felt that they were in a much better position 
to deal with Faisal, The latter would very likely have come 
to an understanding with the French had not the Syrian nation- 


alists pressed for complete independence. After unsuccessful 
negotiations in Paris in 1918-1919, Faisal returned to Damascus 
to try to gain mastery again over the tense situation. In March 
1920 a congress of Syrian notables meeting in Damascus offered 
him the throne of Syria and he accepted, an act which angered 
the French and embarrassed the British, who hesitated to grant 
recognition to the new kingdom. At the same time the Associated 
and Allied Powers, meeting in San Remo in April 1920, assigned 
the territories taken from Turkey as mandates to the two 
occupying powers. Iraq and Palestine were given to Great 
Britain, Syria and Lebanon to France. The French immediately 
set about to gain full control of Syria. They did this not only 
because of the actions of the Syrian nationalists, but also because 
there were rumors that Great Britain was seriously considering 
granting recognition to the Faisal regime. Pressure* was put on 
Faisal, and after a series of ultimatums the French drove him 
out of Damascus (July 25, 1920). Syria was now under French 
control; the first episode of the British attempt to establish 
under their aegis an Islamic state based on the Sharifian family 
had come to an abrupt end. 

On November 2, 1916 Husain, not without his own inspira- 
tion, was proclaimed king of the Arab countries by a group of 
notables and ulema. The French, and even the British, were 
embarrassed and refused to recognize him. But shortly after* 
wards, on January 3, 1917, they simultaneously recognized him 
as King of the Hijaz. Abdullah was his father's Foreign Minister 
and main adviser on foreign affairs. 

Abdullah's Role 

As was mentioned above, Abdullah captured the Turkish 
garrison in Taif, after which he was given a minor military 
task, of assisting his brothers in the siege of Medina. According 
to Lawrence, Abdullah was not made of the material out of 
which great military leaders and crusaders are fashioned. Law- 
rence described Abdullah's general characteristics, after their 
first meeting, in the following terms: 'The Arabs thought Abdul- 
lah a far-seeing statesman and an astute politician. Astute he 
certainly was but not greatly enough to convince us always of 
his sincerity. His ambition was patent. Rumor made him the 
brain of his father and of the Arab Revolt; but he seemed too 


easy for that." The more Lawrence spoke with Abdullah the 
more he was convinced that the prophet he was looking for to 
lead the Arabs against the Turks, "especially the armed prophet 
who, if history be true, succeeded in revolutions," was not Abdul- 
lah. He might perhaps be of some importance in the peace 
which would come after success, but not to carry on with the 
war. Lawrence had to look for another prophet, and he found 
him in Husain's younger son, Faisal. "I felt at first-glance that 
this was the man I had come to Arabia to seek the leader who 
would bring the Arab Revolt to full glory. Faisal looked very 
tall and pillar-like, very slender, in his long white silk robes 
and his brown headcloth bound with a brilliant scarlet and gold 
cord. His eyelids were dropped; and his black beard and color- 
less face were like a mask against the strong still watchfulness 
of his body." Faisal was the leader of the Arab Revolt, and 
Lawrence's admiration helped his natural leadership abilities. 
Abdullah, lacking these qualities, was naturally resentful of his 
brother, and he especially resented Lawrence, who made no 
secret of his feelings for Faisal and who openly criticized 

After Taif was taken, Abdullah had about* 4,000 men, three 
machine guns, and ten mountain guns which he had captured 
from the Turks. He was in no position actually to participate 
in the concerted attack on Medina prepared by his brothers, 
so he stationed himself at Henakiyah, a desert oasis some eighty 
miles northeast of Medina, a location, according to Lawrence, 
too far away to be of any effective use. He later moved to Wadi 
Ais to harass Turkish communications between Medina and 
Damascus. For two full months Abdullah did nothing, and 
Lawrence went to Wadi Ais to find out why and to urge him, 
if the Turks came out, to go straight to them. He reported: 
"Abdullah passed most of his day in it [his tent] laughing with 
his friends, and playing games with Mohammed Hassan the 
court jester." He told Abdullah of his "ambition to do some- 
thing to the Hijaz railway. Here were men, guns, machine guns, 
explosives and automatic mines enough for a main effort." But 
Abdulah was interested in other things. 

At Faisal's camp everything was purposeful and responsibility 
was its higher atmosphere, while at Abdullah's camp the 
atmosphere was lethargic. To Lawrence, Abdullah was physically 
and mentally lazy, and all his efforts to hide that fact were to 


no avail. "Of the tactical situation, Abdullah made very little, 
pretending pettishly that it was Faisal's business. He had come 
to Wadi Ais to please his younger brother and there he would 
stay. He would not go on raids himself, and hardly encouraged 
those who did. I detected jealousy of Faisal in this." 2 Abdullah 
knew, or at least suspected, what Lawrence thought of him, and 
added to his resentment of Lawrence, he was angry with Faisal 
for permitting the Englishman to exert so much influence over 
him. "We had been established at Wadi-Ais a week when twenty- 
seven camelmen under the command of Captain Lawrence 
arrived, from my brother Faisal to supervise the wrecking of the 
railway. I did not like his intervention as I was suspicious of 
his influence among the tribes. I explained however, that he 
represented our ally, Great Britain, but although these words 
made some impression, the general dislike of Lawrence's pre- 
sence was quite clear. " As if to explain the very opposite 
impression that Lawrence made on his brother and on his 
brother's camp, Abdullah wrote: "In Faisal's army, however, 
he had a free hand and through the money he spent and the 
words he talked became the uncrowned king of the Arabs and 
was regarded as the moving spirit in the revolt. He was certainly 
a strange character. His intrigues went as far as an attempt to 
influence me against my own father on the pretext that my 
father was obstinate." As a slur no doubt on Faisal, Abdullah 
noted about Lawrence that he "appeared only to require people 
who had no views of their own, that he might impress his 
personal ideas upon them." 

With the situation as it was, the British saw in Faisal their 
main support and the center of the new Islamic state in Syria; 
they therefore facilitated Faisal's position in Damascus. It was 
Faisal who headed the triumphal entry into Damascus, while 
Abdullah went back to Mecca as his father's Foreign Minister 
and political adviser, bitter and resentful x at his younger 
brother's success. 

Husain and Ibn Saud 

Af ter the war was over and the Turks had signed the armistice 
agreement, Husain went after his old enemy, Ibn Saud, who 
was making great headway with his militant Wahhabism. Even 

2 Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 216. 


at this stage, Ibn Saud's ultimate objective was all of the Hijaz, 
and he did not hesitate to make inroads into the areas claimed 
by Husain. The British found themselves in an awkward posi- 
tion. They were subsidizing both antagonists, and they could 
not let their subsidies be used for a war between two of their 
allies. Since Ibn Saud's participation in the war had been 
negative, he was less aggressive, and as long as the British paid 
his subsidy he abided by one of its basic conditions not to war 
against his neighbor Husain. However, if the monthly subsidy 
of 5,000 were stopped, the situation would be entirely changed. 
Husain, on the other hand, as an active partner in the war and 
with ambitions for the Caliphate, was not satisfied with the 
status quo. In order to raise his prestige in Arabia, he set out 
to restore some of the areas which, he maintained, Ibn Saud 
had taken from him, and he expected his allies, the British, to 
help him, or at least to persuade Ibn Saud to comply with his 
demands. The British advised the King of the Hijaz not to war 
against the Wahhabis; they hoped to bring the two antagonists 
to a conference at which the common ally would act as mediator 
and bring about permanent peace in the Arabian Peninsula. 

Husain refused to heed the advice of the British. As soon as 
the armistice was signed, he ordered Abdullah to return with 
his army to Taif and attack Sharif Khalid Ibn Luaj, chief of 
the oasis of Khurma, east of Taif. In 1917, in the midst of the 
war, many of the inhabitants of Khurma had been converted 
to Wahhabism, and Khalid, who had originally been appointed 
to his position by Husain and who owed him allegiance, betrayed 
his king, drove out some of the people, including the Qadi, who 
remained loyal to Husain, killed others, including his own 
brother, and seceded to Ibn Saud. In June 1918 Husain set out 
to restore Khurma, but failed. 

Abdullah's Disgrace 

When Abdullah was ordered by his father to march against 
Khurma, he hesitated. He argued that a number of expeditions 
sent out previously against Khalid had all been ignominiously 
defeated; he used all his persuasive powers to convince his father 
of the inadvisability of undertaking the mission. But Husain 
stubbornly insisted and ordered Abdullah to proceed. On his 
way, Abdullah stopped at Turabah where he was sure he would 


be safe while preparing for battle. The Wahhabis did not wait 
to be attacked at Khurma, but themselves took the offensive. 
Abdullah reported that while he had enough arms, his man- 
power was very low "only five hundred regular troops and eight 
hundred and fifty Hijazi soldiers." The Wahhabis attacked in 
the dark of night and massacred practically the entire Hijazi 
force. The number of casualties was given as between four and 
five thousand, but even Abdullah himself reported that he had 
suffered great losses. "Of the regulars only three officers survived, 
and of the Arab Hijazi Forces only one hundred fifty men were 
saved." In his typically exaggerated fashion, he added that the 
Wahhabis had lost more than seven thousand dead. 

Abdullah himself miraculously escaped and rushed to Mecca, 
where it was said that his father was so angry that he refused 
to talk to him. Abdullah reported in vivid language the 
disastrous results of the defeat, disastrous to both the entire 
Hashimi family as well as to himself. A period of great unrest 
and anxiety about the fate of the whole Arab movement ensued. 
On his return to headquarters, Abdullah found his father ill 
and nervous, bad-tempered and suspicious. "He believed any 
rumors as long as they fitted in with his suspicions, and intrigue 
flourished/' The suspicions and intrigue obviously all concerned 
Abdullah and his conduct during the campaign. Husain, how- 
ever, was not yet ready to give up and was determined, according 
to Abdullah, to test him once more. He ordered Ali and Abdul- 
lah to march again with Hijazi forces from Medina to Khurma. 
Abdullah tried to get out of this; Husain was infuriated. "So Ali 
asked that I should go with him to Taif with the forces from 
Medina, but we had only gone part of the journey when we 
received a royal order that Ali shall go alone to Taif and that 
I shall march to Khurma." Abdullah realized that the attempt 
would be sheer madness; he wrote his father that he could not 
in all conscience lead the Hijazi soldiers to sure death and 
that he could not comply with the order. Hu$ain did not reply. 
Ali was subsequently recalled to Mecca, while Abdullah stayed 
in Taif, practically in exile; the King and his Foreign Minister 
were indeed estranged. 

Faisal, however, was making headway. As the chief admin- 
istrator of the territory that was about to become his kingdom, 
he went to London and Paris to negotiate with the British and 
the French, and he attended the Peace Conference as head of 



King Abdullah, his father Husain looking down 


the Arab delegation. Abdullah was engaged in the tedious task 
of rebuilding the battered city of Taif. His father, meanwhile, 
was becoming impatient with his British allies; in addition to 
objecting to his war with Ibn Saud, they had reduced his subsidy 
and were making the payments in bank notes and not in gold. 
Moreover, the Syrian situation was not developing in accord 
with Husain's wishes. He hinted, and then openly threatened, 
that he might resign and force his sons to accompany him wher- 
ever he decided to go. 

Abdullah and Allenby 

Allenby, the military commander, wrote Foreign Secretary 
Lord Curzon on November 30, 1919 that such a possibility must 
be avoided; that would have pulled the rug from under the 
entire British structure. Husain demanded that a high British 
official come to Jidda to discuss the outstanding issues, and 
Allenby advised the Foreign Office that if he invited Abdullah, 
as Foreign Minister, Husain would be satisfied. The situation 
became so alarming that Allenby himself visited Jidda and con- 
ferred with Husain and Abdullah, who had been recalled from 

The meeting between father and son was not a happy one. 
Abdullah noted frankly: "When I arrived in Mecca I could 
read in His Majesty's face his great dissatisfaction with me." 
Nor was the meeting with Allenby a friendly one. But Abdul- 
lah was later asked to pay a return visit to Cairo, which he did 
in April 1920. From his own words it would seem that this 
was more than a courtesy call; it was his last attempt to reha- 
bilitate himself with his father. 

As already mentioned, Faisal had been offered and had 
accepted the throne of Syria. Husain was disturbed about this, 
feeling, according to Abdullah, that Turkish renunciation of 
the territory on behalf of the Arabs should have preceded any 
political action. Husain had never given up his claim that he 
was king of all the Arab countries, and he hoped to achieve 
his goal in a peace treaty with Turkey. Faisal had broken the 
unity to which Husain aspired and had prevented his father 
from attaining his objective. Abdullah (at least in retrospect) 
was very bitter against his brother; he blamed him for betraying 
the Hijaz of his father for the throne of Syria. "The journey 


of Faisal to Europe as head of the Arab Delegation to the 
Peace Conference must be regarded as a cover for his endeavors 
towards an independent Syria." Apparently agreeing with his 
father on Faisal's erroneous ways, or perhaps having convinced 
him of them, Abdullah obtained an order from the King of 
Hijaz, according to his report, naming him head of the Arab 
delegation to the Peace Conference. On his visit to Cairo he 
told Allenby of his appointment; Allenby, however, maintained 
that Faisal was the head of the delegation. The British had 
much greater confidence in Faisal and preferred to have him 
at the peace table rather than his older brother. Abdullah 
argued that Faisal was king of Syria and that should be enough 
for him; Allenby declared that Faisal was not recognized by the 
Allies as king of Syria. Abdullah retorted that the Hijazi 
cabinet recognized an accomplished fact and had therefore ap- 
pointed him, Abdullah, head of the delegation. Allenby looked 
at him sternly and responded: "The allies will not accept" you. 
To Abdullah's protest that this was an internal matter and 
could not be of any concern to the Allies, Allenby replied: "You 
heard what I said.* 1 3 Abdullah wrote that this was one of the 
worst situations he had ever experienced. We also know from 
other sources that Abdullah raised with Allenby the question 
of the throne of Iraq, which he had been offered in Damascus; 
Allenby's advice was that it was not auspicious to talk about 
that matter. 

Abdullah's last attempt to redeem himself with his father 
having failed, he was ordered to return to the Hijaz. It was no 
longer possible for him to continue as Foreign Minister, and 
he had no alternative but to resign* As a gesture, Husain made 
him a field marshal. Of the entire Hashimi family, Abdullah was 
the only one not provided for. Husain was King of the Hijaz, 
Faisal was King of Syria and head of the delegation to the 
Peace Conference; Ali would succeed his father. Abdullah there- 
fore collected together a number of followers whom he took 
Into the undefined area between Transjordan and Hijaz. 

Simultaneously with the naming of Faisal as king of Syria 
by the Arab Congress, a number of Iraqi notables, calling them- 
selves al Ahd al Iraqiya (Iraqi Covenanters) met in Damascus 
and named Abdullah king of Iraq. The British were not overly 
enthusiastic about this nomination, nor did Abdullah himself 

3 Memoirs of King Abdullah (London* 1950), 252 et passim. 


take it too seriously. His brother was actually the head of the 
Syrian administration and the proclamation was no more than 
a confirmation of his control; naming him, Abdullah, head of 
something over which he had neither claim nor control was at 
best a gesture, and he knew what such a gesture meant. 

Some time later, the British Sharifian policy as Churchill 
subsequently called it began to take shape. The original scheme 
of a single united Arab state was abandoned; instead, a number 
of small states were to be formed, all headed by members of 
the Hashimite family, and of course under British influence 
and guidance. Husain was to be in the Hijaz; Faisal was to 
be in Syria; and when arrangements in Iraq were worked out 
and it was decided which part of the territory the British would 
administer directly and which part they would permit the Arabs 
to rule, Abdullah would be an acceptable candidate. 

In Transjordan 

As for Transjordan the general opinion of the Arabs of that 
territory was that the Turks would win the war. Some of them, 
however, joined the anti-Turkish forces, but for strictly personal 
reasons. The population as a whole did not participate in the 
actual fighting, but when it was over, many enlisted in Faisal's 
army and joined the march on Damascus. 

As long as the British military authorities were in the country, 
order prevailed, but when in the middle of 1919 the British 
withdrew, the area was exposed to those very pressures which 
had always characterized the territory the bedouins against the 
settled population. Faisal made no serious attempt to administer 
the territory of Transjordan; he made some gestures in an 
attempt to claim jurisdiction over it, while his father, who 
claimed it as part of his domain, made contradictory gestures. 

In Aqaba, for instance, a qaimmaqam had been appointed, 
but no one knew by whom; he received orders from Husain 
in Mecca, and contrary orders from Damascus. Reflecting the 
conditions at the time, he took orders from no one but did as 
he pleased. At Maan another qaimmaqam had been appointed, 
by the Damascus government, but the representative at Aqaba 
was instructed by Mecca to take control of Maan as part of his 
jurisdiction. These supposed antagonists lived rather peacefully 


*" * ' 




with each other and ruled independently of both Mecca and 
Damascus. 4 

Without any clear objective or valid legal base, British officers 
had guided some localities into some form of administration; 
when Faisal was forced out of Syria, conditions in Transjordan 
began to deteriorate rapidly. For while Syria was taken over 
by the French, Transjordan, which was part of the Palestine 
mandate assigned to Great Britain the previous April, became 
a no-man's land because the British were confused and were 
unwilling to send in the necessary military forces to hold the 
territory. 5 The attacks of the bedouins on the settled population 
became so great that the country was fast becoming a center 
of brigandage and lawlessness; indeed, so brazen did the bed- 
ouins become that Winston Churchill reported in the House 
of Commons that "raiding parties of Arabs from Transjordania 
have repeatedly crossed the Jordan to kill and steal on the 
western side of the river." 6 

In August 1920 the High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir 
Herbert Samuel (now Viscount) went to as Salt, and before 
a gathering of notables declared that after the fall of Faisal, 
Transjordan had come under British control and that the 
British would help the Trans Jordanians set up local govern- 
ments; he would send them a number of political officers. The 
authority under which Sir Herbert claimed Transjordan to be 
under British control must have been the Palestine mandate, 
yet the British were unwilling to set up a full administration 
there as they had done on the western side of the Jordan because 
of "their reluctance to face the expense of maintaining two or 
three battalions." So they resorted to the expediency of organiz- 
ing local governments through the assistance of political officers 

4 Illustrative of the general anarchy, and bordering on the ridiculous is the 
case of the village of Tafilah. The inhabitants of this southern village organ- 
ized a Council of Government and made the following appointment: a qaim- 
maqamto whom no one paid any heed; a qadi who had no one to judge; a 
mufti but no one to pray with; a telegraph master without a telegraph; a 
minister of finance and a treasurer without any money; a local doctor of 
sorts was given the imposing title of minister of public health. Jarvis, Arab 
Command, 65-66. 

5 According to Luke, a detachment of the Royal Air Force reoccupied 
Transjordan after Faisalls ejection from Syria. Henry C. Luke and E. Keith 
Roach, The Handbook of Palestine and Transjordan (1930 edition), 420. 

6 Great Britain, Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 143, col. 288, 
June 14, 1921. Henceforth this source is noted PJD.C. for Commons, and 
PJ>JL. for Lords. 


and, as one of those officers declared, without any "intention at 
that stage of forming the territory east of the River Jordan into 
an independent Arab state." 

In the northern part of the country, from Karak to Irbid, 
four local governments were set up, and each political officer 
tried to shape a regime in the best way he knew and within the 
given conditions. The population as a whole took advantage 
of the lack of government; they would not pay taxes and they 
let their British guides shift for themselves. These same guides 
were given to understand, by the British Government, that they 
would be wasting their time if they asked for assistance in the 
form of money or troops. 

In Karak, under the guidance of Alec Kirkbride who later 
became the British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Jordan (and 
because of his Biblical background), a National Government of 
Moab was formed and a council of notables became the cabinet. 
The modern Moabites refused to tax themselves, and the lack 
of money naturally meant no salaries for the members of the 
council, but they were even willing to forego that rather than 
impose taxes. 7 An English concession-hunter finally provided the 
wherewithal for the needs of the Moabites. Against the recom- 
mendation of the British adviser, the cabinet granted, for one 
thousand pounds, a concession to the Englishman to exploit the 
mineral resources of their country. 

In Amman, to the north of Karak, an Ammonite government 
was set up, under the guidance of another Englishman. Friction 
soon developed between the Ammonites and the Moabites over 
the boundaries; the heads of the councils of the two govern- 
ments, both Englishmen, used their Biblical knowledge to its 
fullest extent in their boundary quarrels. 8 

7 "When the Council became too depressed over the financial situation we 
used to bring out a five-inch howitzer, of Victorian vintage according to the 
VR on its barrel, which had been left behind by the Arab army in 1918, and 
fire off live rounds into the sky. The exercise never failed to restore the 
morale of the Council." Alec Seath Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns Experi- 
ences in the Middle East (London, 1956), 22. 

8 The ridiculous relationship between the Palestine administration and the 
Transjordan local governments is illustrated by the battle of the postage 
stamps. "Having no stamps of our own the National Government [of Moab] 
asked the Palestine postal authorities if a supply of Palestine stamps could 
be made available for use in Moab. Their answer was a firm negative, so we 
proceeded to manufacture stamps by ruling off blank sheets "of white paper 
into squares and stamping each division with the National Seal. Cut up 
with a pair of scissors and gummed at the back, the new stamps might be said 


Still a third British political adviser was Major Somerset, later 
Lord Raglan, working in the Ajlun area, where he set up four 
antagonistic governments and so kept the peace. 9 Major Peake 
was charged with organizing a gendarmerie. In October 1920 
he was given permission to organize two small bodies of armed 
men (one unit of a hundred and the other of fifty men) to keep 
order in Amman and on the road to Palestine, and to assist 
the British officials in Karak. Service in these units was very 
unpopular. 10 

Threat to Syria 

All these local governments were inevitably ineffective and 
conditions in Transjordan grew steadily worse. Not only did 
insecurity increase and raids into the western side of the Jordan 
become more frequent, but Transjordan became the launching 
site for raids on French Syria. The French clearly indicated 
their determination to stop the raiding. Said Churchill: "All the 
discontented elements who were driven out of Damascus by the 
French in the recent trouble . . . had gathered in Transjordania, 
and had begun to raid northwards into French territory, blow- 
ing up bridges etc., and taking other aggressive action." 
Suspicious of the British as the cause of their difficulties in 
Syria, the French insisted that the British establish order in 

to be crude but serviceable. The Palestine Government rewarded this initia- 
tive by announcing that it could not recognize the new stamps and any letters 
franked by these would be treated as though they were unstamped. We re- 
plied that reciprocal treatment would be accorded in Moab to letters bearing 
Palestinian stamps. After some ineffective fulminations the Palestine Govern- 
ment climbed down and sent us the supply of stamps which we had asked for 
in the first place." Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, 23-24. 

9 Some shaikhs of Ajlun, meeting with Major Somerset on September 2, 
1920, signed a treaty with the British in the form of questions and answers; 
this became known as the Umm Qeis Treaty. 

10 Peake reported that after Sir Herbert Samuel's visit to as Salt in Aug. 
1920: "I was sent across the Jordan to report on such police and gendarmerie 
as might still exist in that area and on the public security. It was instructed 
not to enter the southern or Maan area, as it might offend King Hussein who 
still continued to regard that part of the country as belonging to his Kingdom 
of the Hijaz. I found a strange state of affairs prevailing all over the country 
... in the northern district Major Somerset, with great skill, managed to keep 
a semblance of order by playing off the four governments against one another 
... in the central area, now known as Belqa, matters were far worse ... the 
most turbulent people of all were the tribesmen of the Beni Sakhr. Further 
south the country was most unsafe." F. G. Peake, "Transjordan/' Journal of 
the Royal Central Asian Society, XXXI, 381-382, July, 1939. 


Transjordan and stop all raiding from there, and threatened 
that unless this were done, they would have no alternative but 
to take over Transjordan, 

The British were just then facing several crises. Iraq had 
revolted, with heavy losses both to the Iraqis and to the British. 
Faisal was now an Arab leader around whom British policy was 
to be built, but a king without a throne. At home the cry for 
withdrawal from the Middle East, especially by the Northcliffe 
press, became more clamorous. The entire British policy in the 
Middle East had to be revamped. At this juncture, Abdullah 
made his appearance on the fringes of Transjordan with the 
ostensible purpose of restoring his brother Faisal to the throne 
of Syria. He was the answer to England's need. 

Chapter VIII 

Sharifian Rearrangement 

ALTHOUGH a group of Arab leaders iiad nominated 
Abdullah to the throne of Iraq when the Syrian Congress 
elected Faisal to the throne of Syria, Abdullah realized 
that this was no more than a gesture, and his meeting with 
General Allenby in Cairo in the spring of 1920 convinced him 
that the British would not go out of their way to assist him 
attain the throne. Faisal's ejection from Syria in July gave 
Abdullah an opportunity to reappear on the stage of the Arab 
movement. According to Abdullah, supporters of the Arab cause 
had requested that a member of the Hashimi family take the 
place of the exiled Faisal; he had asked his father's permission 
to go to Syria, but, he added significantly, it was not to be 
considered "as a Hijazi" appointment. Husain granted per- 
mission and Abdullah arrived in Maan on November 5, 1920 
where he issued a proclamation to "all our Syrian brothers" 
that he was coming to drive the aggressors out. He maintained 
that he supported the monarchy and aimed to re-establish 
Faisal as king; he asked the members of the Syrian Congress 
and all officers and troops of the Syrian army to come to Maan. 
The response was disheartening; many of the bedouin shaikhs 
discouraged him, and a number of high Arab officers who did 
come demanded that their pension rights be underwritten by 
the Hashimi government. The amounts of money asked for 
were so fantastic, especially in view of the fact that he had no 
financial means, that he concluded that unless the movement 
were supported by outside funds it would fail. 1 

l Abdullah reported that Kamil Bey al Budairi asked him in Maan for 
80,000 to establish a propaganda office, and Nabih al Adhma for 120,000 for 
the same purpose. Memoirs of King Abdullah, 190-191. 



Abdullah Enters Trcmsjordan 

While he was in Maan, Abdullah received disturbing news. 
At the time he was supposedly working for his brother's restora- 
tion, the latter had gone to London and had been received by 
King George V; Faisal was obviously negotiating for a new 
arrangement. He also received a letter from Mazhar Bey Bashan, 
governor of as Salt, who wrote: "The National Government 
has heard of your intention to stay in Transjordan. If your 
visit is a private one, the country will welcome you; if it is for 
political purposes, the Government will do all to stop you from 
coming." In Amman and Karak, according to Abdullah, posters 
appeared which read: "The British Government has been in- 
formed that a small group has arrived from the Hijaz to fight 
France and Syria, pretending to have British support. The 
British Government has no connection with this group, and 
warns people not to join it." Although on the surface the posters 
would appear to have been a rather crude and weak expression 
of the British view, and one might question the accuracy of the 
reporting about the contents, they may nevertheless have con- 
veyed the British state of mind at the time. 

Abdullah proceeded northward from Maan, since the British 
took no action against his proclaimed intentions. In January 
1921 it was reported in Karak that he was advancing at the head 
of some 2,000 men toward the town. This was definitely within 
Transjordan territory, and the British adviser in Karak, Alec 
Kirkbride, asked the Palestine High Commissioner what he 
was to do should Abdullah appear; Kirkbride had at his com- 
mand fifty policemen. Two weeks later the High Commissioner 
replied: "It was considered most unlikely that the Amir Abdul- 
lah would arrive into territory which was under British control." 
The following day, British consideration notwithstanding, Kirk- 
bride was informed that Abdullah was on the move and would 
be in Karak within twenty-four hours. Kirkbride decided that 
the best policy was to meet the Amir, hat in hand, and say: 
"Sir, welcome to Transjordan/' And that is what he did. To- 
gether with the members of the National Government of Moab 
he was on hand to meet Abdullah at the nearest station of the 
Hijaz railway. Abdullah, expecting resistance, was charmed with 
the reception, and he inquired of Kirkbride whether the Na- 
tional Government of Moab had ever been recognized inter- 
nationally. Kirkbride replied that the question was by now 


largely academic since Abdullah was there. With the Amir's 
arrival, the National Government of Moab peacefully expired; 
from Karak, Abdullah continued to Amman. 

The British-Cairo Conference 

At the very time Abdullah was heading for Amman, the entire 
Middle Eastern Department of the British Government was 
being reorganized. It was taken out of the Foreign Office, under 
Lord Curzon, and transferred to the Colonial Office, under the 
new Secretary, Winston Churchill, who appointed Colonel 
Lawrence as adviser on Arab affairs. Lawrence and his colleagues 
immediately began working on plans and draft programs to be 
presented at a conference which was to be held in Cairo early 
in March. The conference was to be Lloyd George's answer to 
the general demand of the opposition for complete withdrawal 
from the Middle East. 

Just as the item of Transjordan was reached on the conference 
agenda and Captain F. G. Peake, who had come from Trans- 
Jordan with Major Somerset, was about to report on the situation 
there, he was handed a telegram informing him that Abdullah 
had entered Amman. The conference was thrown into confusion. 
The first general reaction was that "Abdullah must be stopped, 
and that he could not be allowed to occupy Transjordan and 
from there launch an attack on Syria. But how could he be 
stopped? Two alternatives were discussed: to send in the British 
army to crush him; or to allow the French to enter Transjordan 
and take it over. In view of the general purpose of the con- 
ference, it was not likely that the British government would 
expend the necessary funds to send an army; nor, in view of 
the British Arab policy, would the government allow France 
to occupy the territory. 

A New Solution 

After considerable discussion, a third alternative was elabo- 
rated. Let Abdullah stay in Transjordan as the representative 
of the Mandatory to whom the territory had been assigned at 
San Remo the previous April. To make it possible for Abdullah 
to organize an administration, he would be given a subsidy, in 
return for which he would promise not only not to attack the 
French in Syria himself, but also to prevent any discontented 


elements in Transjordan from launching such attacks. He would 
be asked at the same time to renounce all claims to Iraq to 
clear the way for his brother Faisal. 2 Churchill telegraphed 
London and obtained Whitehall's consent to the scheme, and 
he was authorized to meet with Abdullah, whereupon the High 
Commissioner in Jerusalem invited Abdullah to come and meet 
with the Colonial Secretary. Colonel Lawrence met Abdullah 
earlier at as Salt and outlined the British proposals, which were 
premised on the assumption that Faisal could not return to 

The meeting between Churchill and Abdullah took place on 
March 27, 192L Representing the British were Churchill; Sir 
Herbert Samuel, the High Commissioner for Palestine; Sir 
Wyndham Deedes, Chief Secretary for Palestine; and Colonel 
Lawrence; representing the Arabs were Abdullah and Auni 
Abdul Hadi. 

Churchill outlined the proposals: 1) Abdullah to prevent 
action against the French; 2) to renounce his rights and claims 
to Iraq; 3) to undertake to maintain order in Transjordan; 

4) to recognize the British mandate over Transjordan as part 
of the Palestine mandate; and to set up an Arab government 
and administer the territory in the name of the mandatory; 

5) to receive for six months a monthly subsidy of 5,000; 6) a 
British representative of the High Commissioner to be stationed 
in Amman as adviser to the Amir's government and to help 
set up the administration; 7) the British to recognize the inde- 
pendence of Transjordan at some future date. 

The following morning, Abdullah notified the Colonial Sec- 
retary that he accepted the conditions. 3 Churchill believed at 

2 It would seem that the question of the throne of Iraq had become an issue 
for the British as soon as Faisal came to London and began to press the Brit- 
ish for a substitute for Syria. On Dec. 17, 1920 Lord Curzon, the Foreiepi Sec- 
retary and chairman of the Interdepartmental Committee on Middle Eastern 
Affairs, deputed Col. Kinahan Cornwallis to offer Faisal the throne of Iraq. 
Cornwallis reported back that Faisal had said that the throne belonged to his 
brother Abdullah and he could therefore not accept it. Afterwards, Col. T. E. 
Lawrence was asked to approach Abdullah and obtain his renunciation of 
the claim; the former reported that Abdullah would off*r no serious objec- 
tions. Faisal was again approached and this time accepted the offer. 

3 Kirkbride, who had first-hand information on the developments, stated 
that the major conditions that the British had made were that Abdullah was 
to recognize the validity of the British mandate, and renounce his avowed 
intention of conquering Syria. He then added: "Being well content with the 
way matters had fallen out, the Amir accepted both conditions without argu- 
ment. Whether his bellicose intentions towards Syria had ever existed was a 
moot point/' Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, 27. 


the time that in spite of what the French had done in Damascus, 
he had succeeded in repairing and reshaping the original British 
Sharifian policy. Faisal was now to get Iraq; Abdullah was estab- 
lished in Transjordan and at the same time assured the British ' 
orderly relations with the French in the Middle East. Added 
to this was the major objective of the Cairo conferencereducing 
the burden of the British taxpayer in the Middle East. Church- 
ill's report to the House of Commons of the proceedings and 
achievements of the Cairo conference was one of triumphant 
accomplishment. 4 

The Meaning of the Conditions 

In later years Abdullah gave his own version of the negotia- 
tions with Churchill. As regards the renunciation of the throne 
of Iraq, Churchill had asked Abdullah to persuade his father 
and the people of Iraq to accept the nomination of Faisal to 
the throne. To which Abdullah had replied that while he was 
ready to influence his father, he could not address himself to 
the people of Iraq as he had no contact with them. He also 
claimed that the price he exacted from Lawrence for giving 
up Iraq was the kingdom of Syria. 5 As regards Syria, according 
to Abdullah, Churchill had said: "The French will not tolerate 
Faisal's return to Syria. If you remain here, behave well and 
pursue the right course in this matter both here and in the 
Hijaz, we hope that France may change its mind and after 
a few months give you your due; Syria will then be yours 
again/' 6 He also reported that Churjhill had expressed the 
hope that France would change its mind and that within six 
months he, Churchill, would be congratulating Abdullah on 
getting Syria back. 7 The Jordanian, Toukan, following closely 
Abdullah's story of developments, went further and declared 
that in the agreement between Churchill and Abdullah there 
was a provision that Great Britain should use its good offices 

4 The British efforts to justify Abdullah's establishment in Transjordan 
reached the absurd stage when the Duke of Sutherland, speaking in the House 
of Lords for the government's policy, declared: "The Emir Abdullah, a son of 
King Hussein, was invited to act as Head of Administration of the country by 
the people of the country." Great Britain, PJ>^, 49, col. 161, Feb. 21, 1922. 

5 Philip W. Ireland, Iraq. A Study in Political Development (New York, 
1938), 310. 

6 Abdullah, Mv Memoirs Completed (Washington, 1954), 32-33. 

7 Memoirs of King Abdullah, 203. 


with France to secure the restoration of an Arab administration 
in Syria, with the Amir Abdullah at its head. 8 

There can be no doubt that the British in general, and Law- 
rence in particular, were bitter at the French for ousting Faisal, 
but in view of Churchill's efforts to assure orderly relations 
between France, Syria and Transjordan, it would not seem 
likely that Lawrence would promise Syria to Abdullah, or that 
Churchill would talk of Abdullah's return there within six 

The placing of Abdullah in Transjordan by the Colonial 
Secretary, "on a Sunday afternoon," on the advice of Colonel 
Lawrence, was later justified by British officials, as well as by 
historians, as the fulfillment of the undertaking given by Sir 
Henry MacMahon to the Sharif Husain. The legal question 
would therefore be whether Transjordan was or was not in- 
cluded in the undertaking. But what would be of greater 
moment historically, without going into the complex question 
of the legal validity of the undertaking as such, is whether the 
British themselves thought, prior to the appearance of Abdullah, 
that the territory was included in the undertaking. 

Transjordan Included in Palestine 

Until Faisal was ejected from Damascus, the British gave little 
thought to providing a territory for Amir Abdullah, and even 
while Faisal was in Damascus and order and security in the 
Transjordan territory were deteriorating, the British made no 
attempt to find a solution for the administration of Trans- 
Jordan, It would seem that following the Sykes-Picot agreement 
and the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, the general assump- 
tion was that Transjordan was an integral part of Palestine. 
Indeed, in a memorandum dealing with the question of the 
disposal of Turkish territories, dated June 26, 1919, from Arthur 
James Balfour, head of the British delegation to the Paris Peace 
Conference, to Prime Minister David Lloyd George, it was said 
about the boundaries of Palestine: "In determining the Pales- 
tinian frontiers, the main thing to keep in mind is to make 
a Zionist policy possible by giving the fullest scope to economic 
development in Palestine. Thus the Northern frontier should 

8 Baha Uddin Toukan, A Short History of Transjordan (London, 1945), 


give to Palestine a full command of the water power which 
geographically belongs to Palestine and not to Syria; while the 
Eastern frontier should be so drawn as to give the widest scope 
to agricultural development on the left bank of the Jordan, 
consistent with leaving the Hedjaz Railway completely in Arab 
possession." In another memorandum, dated August 11, 1919, 
Balfour stated that "Palestine should extend into the lands 
lying east of the Jordan. It should not, however, be allowed to 
include the Hedjaz Railway which is too distinctly bound up 
with exclusively Arab interests." 9 

Abdullah saw Transjordan as originally included in the Bal- 
four Declaration, at least in retrospect, for he declared: "He 
[God] granted me success in creating the. Government of Trans- 
Jordan by having it separated from the Balfour Declaration 
which had included it since the Sykes-Picot Agreement assigned 
it to the British zone of influence." 10 

In April 1920, when Faisal was still in Damascus but after the 
San Remo conference, Earl Winterton, a Middle Eastern expert 
and well acquainted with the Hashimi family and their ambi- 
tions, urged the British Government, in the House of Commons, 
that the boundary between Palestine and Arabia, "if the Zionists 
are to enjoy a peaceful life i!n Palestine/' should be the River 
Jordan. He added that although he knew that this boundary 
had not been agreed upon, he nevertheless thought it would be 
highly desirable. 11 Three months later, when Faisal was already 
out of Damascus, the Prime Minister, Bonar Law, asked for 
notice on the question: "Will the eastern boundary of Palestine 
in the future be the River Jordan?" To the inquiry who was 
"administering the country east of the River Jordan" he again 
replied that he would want notice on the question. 12 

In October of that year the government was asked whether 
Transjordan was included in the Palestine Mandate which was 
based on the Balfour Declaration. J. Austen Chamberlain replied 
that it would be premature to make any statement until the vari- 
ous boundaries had been finally settled. 13 

9 Great Britain, Foreign Office, Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919- 
1939, First Series, IV (London, E. L. Woodward and Rohan Butler, eds., 1952), 
302, 347. 

10 Abdullah, My Memoirs Completed, 91-92. 

n Great Britain, PJXC., 128, col. 1512, Apr. 29, 1920. 

12 Great Britain, PJD.C., 132, cols. 1419-1420, July 28, 1920. 

13 Great Britain, PJD.C., 133, col. 1072, Oct. 21, 1920. 


The first draft of the Palestine mandate was submitted to the 
Council of the League of Nations by Arthur James Balfour, on 
behalf of the British Government, on December 6, 1920. It con- 
tained no provision exempting Transjordan from the scope of 
the Jewish National Home. 14 As late as February 1921, when the 
experts of the Colonial Office prepared recommendations for the 
Cairo conference, Transjordan was included in Palestine and was 
to be an indistinguishable part of Palestine, and open to Jewish 
immigration. The British Palestine Royal Commission of 1937 
concluded that "the field in which the Jewish National Home 
was to be established was understood, at the time of the Balfour 
Declaration, to be the whole of historic Palestine," including 
Transjordan. 15 It would thus appear that up to the time of 
Abdullah's appearance in Amman, neither the British govern- 
ment nor those who were working closely with the Sharifian 
family thought of Transjordan as included in the MacMahon 
undertaking. It was only later, when British policy was reshaped 
and Transjordan was given to Abdullah, that that step was justi- 
fied on the discovery that Transjordan was separable from Pales- 
tine on the basis of the MacMahon-Husain correspondence. 

Expediency Became Policy 

Kirkbride, evaluating the developments in Transjordan when 
Abdullah arrived and during the subsequent formulation of 
British policy, stated that when the mandate for Palestine was 
granted to Great Britain in April 1920, "there was no intention 
at that stage of forming the territory east of ther Jordan into an 
independent Arab state," but afterwards, "in due course the 
remarkable discovery was made that the clauses of the mandate 
relating to the establishment of the National Home for the Jews 
had never been intended to apply to die mandated territory east 
of Article 15, 16 and 18." u 

C. J. Jarvis, a veteran of British administration in the Middle 
East and biographer of Peake Pasha, noted that "it had not oc- 
curred to the British Government previously' that one of the 
Hashimi family, a son of King Husain, should act as a ruler in 

14 United States, Department of State, Mandate -for Palestine (Washington, 
1931), 20. 

15 Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, Palestine Royal Commission Re- 
port, Cmd. 5479, 1937, 38. 


Trans-Jordan, but his presence in the country as prince of a 
ruling house was now a fait accompli, and it was advisable to 
make the best of a situation that might prove difficult." 

H. St. John Philby, one of the earliest British representatives 
in Transjordan, stated that the League of Nations understood 
in the term Palestine that Transjordan was also included, but 
that Churchill had worked out a compromise, dividing Palestine 
along the Jordan. 16 

It was thus after the decision to establish Abdullah in Trans- 
jordan, on the basis of his agreement with Churchill, that the 
British government submitted a new draft of the Palestine Man- 
date. This included Article 25, which provided: "In the terri- 
tories lying between Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine 
as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled with 
the consent of the Council of the League of Nations to postpone 
or withhold application of such provisions of the mandate as he 
may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and 
to make such provision for the administration of the territories 
as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided no 
action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions 
of Articles 15, 16 and IS."**. 

The act of exempting, in the very document itself, Transjordan 
territory from some of the provisions of the Mandate, would 
clearly indicate that Transjordan was part of Palestine. As a 
matter of fact, Article 25 gives the eastern boundary of Trans- 
Jordan as "the eastern boundary of Palestine." Yet the legal 
gymnastics of the British, in order to accommodate themselves 

16 Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, 20, 27; Jarvis, Arab Command, 81; H. St. 
John Philby, "Trans-Jordan," Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, XI, 
300, Oct., 1924. 

17 This was officially approved by the Council of the League of Nations on 
Sept. 16, 1922 in the following resolution: 

In the application of the mandate to Transjordan, the action which, in 
Palestine, is taken by the Administration of the latter country will be taken 
by the Administration of Transjordan under the general supervision of the 

His Majesty's Government accept full responsibility as Mandatory for 
Transjordan, and undertake that such provision as may be made for the 
administration of that country in accordance with Article 25 of the Man- 
date shall be in no way inconsistent with those provisions of the Mandate 
which are not by this resolution declared inapplicable. 
This became the legal basis for Great Britain's position in Transjordan. 
Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, Mandate for Palestine together with a 
note by the Secretary -General relating to its application to the territory known 
as Trans-Jordan, Cmd. 1785, 1922. 


to the new conditions, led their representative at the Eleventh 
Session of the Permanent Mandates Commission, Sir John Shuck- 
burgh, to declare that Transjordan "is not a part of Palestine, 
but it is a part of the area administered by the British Govern- 
ment as mandatory, under the authority of the Palestine 
Mandate." " 

Administration Organized 

As for developments in Transjordan. The Palestine adminis- 
tration advanced Abdullah 5,000 monthly, in accordance -with 
the understanding. On April 18, 1921 Sir Herbert Samuel visited 
Amman and outlined British policy. He named Julius Abramson 
as chief British representative, and appointed seven political 
officers to give Abdullah advice and to supervise his administra- 
tion. On July 2 Abdullah named Rashid Bey Tali as his adminis- 
trative secretary, and Tali and other Arab officials served as 
advisers to the Amir. That same month the British Parliament 
approved the Churchill-Abdullah agreement and voted 180,000 
as a grant-in-aid for the new Transjordan government. 19 

The tasks which faced the Transjordan government were more 
than Abdullah, with his limited experience, could handle. He 
had first to abolish the local governments and organize a central 
authority in Amman which would command the obedience of 
the entire population; he had to establish order and security 
within the territory and stop incursions from the desert; he had 
to restrain the discontented elements from making raids into 
French Syria; he had to "persuade" the various elements of the 
population to pay taxes. Above all, he had to establish a financial 
regime for himself as well as for his followers, in accordance 
with British expectations. The assumption underlying the gov- 
ernmental structure was that there existed local patriotism which 
would inspire cooperation for the national welfare. As it 
turned out, not only was this assumption not justified, but there 
was also no personal loyalty to Abdullah himself. The Amir's 
followers, in line with the traditions of the desert, looked upon 

18 League of Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the 
Eleventh Session (Geneva, 1927), 111. 

19 The calculation of the amount was based on the following: 30,000 to be 
returned to the Palestine government for expenses incurred during the previ- 
ous six months; 30,000 in six monthly installments for Abdullah's private 
purse; 120,000 to raise an adequate police force and for the salaries of officials. 


the British subsidy as a gift to be speiit for personal purposes. 
Most of the administration personnel were former officials of 
the Arab government in Damascus, and to them Transjordan 
was only a means for harassing the French in Syria. Moreover, 
the British representative, who was merely an adviser and had 
no executive power, was not of the caliber that the task de- 
manded. Serious difficulties soon developed. 

Difficulties Encountered 

In July, General Henri J. E. Gouraud, French High Commis- 
sioner for Syria, and his party were ambushed near Kunaitra in 
Syrian territory, from the northern district of Transjordan, and 
a French officer was killed. In the same month the colony of 
Menahamiya on the western side of the Jordan was raided by 
a Transjordan tribe and all its livestock 600 head of cattle and 
many sheep were driven away. There was also trouble in the 
district of Kura. Some British statesmen in London began to 
wonder whether the choice of Abdullah had been a wise one 
and seriously considered the possibility of ousting him. As a 
measure to improve the situation, the High Commissioner for 
Palestine demanded and obtained the dismissal of Tali as Ab- 
dullah's chief adviser, and in August 1921 Mazhar Bey Arslan 
was named chief adviser; the Council of Advisers became the 
Consultative Council, with Arslan as president. 

Since Abdullah was in Transjordan as the result of Lawrence's 
recommendation, Churchill sent the latter to Transjordan in 
October 1921 to study the situation there. Lawitnce's first act 
was to remove all the British staff who had come from the Pales- 
tine government except Captain Peake, and he himself became 
for a while the chief British representative. But as he had no 
intention of making his career in Transjordan, Lawrence recom- 
mended H. St. John Philby to replace him. Churchill accepted 
the recommendation and in December Philby, who was out of 
a job at the time, arrived in Amman. The major change intro- 
duced was that the British staff in Transjordan was to be in- 
dependent of the Palestine administration, although it would be 
under the general control of the Palestine High Commissioner. 
Apart from questions of internal security, taxes, and the 
organization of military and police forces, which will be dealt 
with in the next chapter, the principal issue was the permanent 


political organization of the territory. It was clearly understood 
by all concerned that the existing arrangements were temporary, 
that negotiations would be carried on looking toward establish- 
ing normal relations between Transjordan and Great Britain 
based on a permanent political organization. With the arrival of 
Philby, however, a three-cornered struggle developed between 
him, Abdullah, and the Palestine administration, a struggle 
which stemmed from basic differences of attitude. 

Philb/s Clashes 

Philby, an Arabophile who believed that the Arabs could 
become real democrats in the Western sense and could attain 
Western standards of political conduct, resented any attempt, 
especially by Arab leaders, which denied democratic political 
rule to the Arab countries. Moreover, he resented the corrupt 
prattices of Arab politicians, which he considered a betrayal of 
the Arab cause, a means of perpetuating autocratic rule and de- 
grading the Arab name. He expected Arab leaders to behave 
as did the best Arabophiles of the West, In spite of his deep and 
singular knowledge of things Arabic, Philby failed to understand 
and appreciate the characteristics of the Arabs, their values, 
their patterns of conduct and their mentality, tvhich are not the 
same as Western values and standards of behavior. It was 
inevitable that he should clash head-on with Abdullah and his 
followers who, their contacts with the West notwithstanding, 
remained basically a desert people. 

Philby also clashed with the Palestine administration. He sus- 
pected the British officers in Palestine, not excluding the High 
Commissioner himself, of condoning questionable practices of 
Abdullah and his subordinates as a means of gaining administra- 
tive control over Transjordan. JHe failed to understand the at- 
titude of the civil servants in the Palestine administration in 
their practical approach to Transjordan, the people, and the 
ruling elements introduced by Abdullah. Philby felt that his 
primary functions, and his only ones, were to advise and criticize, 
but not otherwise to interfere directly or indirectly in the ad- 
ministration of the territory. He hoped that by letting Abdullah 
do as he pleased with the British grant-in-aid, by criticizing his 
bad practices and advising him on better methods, the situation 
would somehow improve. His chief and constant criticism was 


the way Abdullah disposed of the funds he received from the 
British Treasury, and he kept pressing Abdullah to proceed im- 
mediately with the establishment of representative institutions 
so that Transjordan would become independent, as was en- 
visioned in the agreement with Churchill. But Abdullah, and his 
entourage and officials, mostly Syrians, Palestinians and Iraqis, 
fearing that they would lose their favored position under any 
form of home rule, refused, according to Philby, to proceed with 
forming a representative government. The encounters were fre- 
quent. "I remained as patient as I could in the circumstances, 
while Abdullah and his associates indulged in an orgy of malad- 
ministration. The Treasury was robbed right and left." Abdullah 
complained to the High Commissioner, and the latter, as re- 
corded by Philby, sided with Abdullah. This intensified Philby's 
suspicions against the Palestine administration. 

First Promise of Independence 

In March 1922 Abdullah named Ali Riza Rikabi Pasha, a 
former Turkish official who had headed the Faisal administra- 
tion in Damascus, as president of the Consultative Council. 
Conditions became more settled and Abdullah was invited by 
Churchill to come to London to negotiate a permanent settle- 
ment for Transjordan, in terms of independence. In October, 
Abdullah, accompanied by Philby and Rikabi, arrived in London 
where he held conversations with Sir Gilbert Clayton. These 
talks were apparently successful and Abdullah and his party 
returned to Amman. Early the following year, Rikabi Pasha 
resigned, reportedly because of a dispute with Abdullah over 
financial matters; he was replaced by Mazhar Pasha Arslan. 

The London conversations came to fruition in Amman oil. 
April 25, 1923 when Sir Herbert Samuel, accompanied by the 
new chief secretary of the Palestine government, Sir Gilbert 
Clayton, declared, in the name of the British government, that: 
"Subject to the approval of the League of Nations, His Majesty's 
Government would recognize the existence of an independent 
government in Transjordan under the rule of His Highness the 
Amir Abdullah; provided that such government was constitu- 
tional and placed His Britannic Majesty's Government in a 
position to fulfill its international obligations in respect of the 


territory by means of an agreement to be concluded between the 
two Governments." 20 

Although this was no more than a declaration of intentions, 
dependent not only on the approval of the League of Nations 
but qualified by the establishment of a constitutional govern- 
ment and the conclusion of a treaty between Transjordan and 
Great Britain, both the British and Abdullah marked the state- 
ment as the declaration of Transjordan's independence, and on 
May 25 the Amir made a formal proclamation to that effect. 
The last two conditions, which were entirely dependent on 
Abdullah, prolonged the dependent status of Transjordan for 
at least another five years, when the treaty was signed, and then 
further prolonged it until ratification. 

Phiiby Leaves 

Despite the heip which Phiiby had given Abdullah during the 
negotiations in London and which the latter fully acknowledged, 
and despite the resulting declaration of independence, relations 
between Abdullah and Phiiby became more and more strained. 
A crisis came in September 1923 with the rising of the Adwan 
against the reckless tyranny of the regime. The uprising seri- 
ously threatened to eliminate Abdullah from Transjordan. Phii- 
by, with the aid of the Royal Air Force, checked the Adwan 
and saved Abdullah; but while he did what he did for the sake 
of orderly government, he felt that he had been wrong in saving 
Abdullah, who went on recklessly spending the British grant. 
By October his annual financial resources were exhausted. The 
British then recognized the error of their policy and decided 
to discontinue the grant-in-aid as of the following April. 21 

Phiiby submitted his resignation in January 1924. With his 

20 Abdullah made the following curious statement to the assembled notables: 
'*! now want to inform you that a treaty guaranteeing the independence of 
Transjordan has been concluded between His Hashimite Majesty and His 
Britannic Majesty, and I must associate myself with you in your pleasure at 
this news." Memoirs of King Abdullah, 208. 

21 Phiiby, "Trans- Jordan/' Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, XI, 
306-307, Oct., 1924. The official British report to the League of Nations de- 
clared that the reason for the discontinuance of the grant-in-aid was "the 
persistent failure of the Transjordan government to submit satisfactory state- 
ments of accounts." Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report by His Britannic 
Majesty's Government on the Administration under Mandate of Palestine and 
Trans-Jordan for the Year 1924 (London, 1925), Col. No, 12, 66. Henceforth 
cited as Report . . . and year. 


going, and with the discontinuance of the direct grant-in-aid to 
Abdullah, came to an end the policy recommended by Lawrence: 
that the British staff in Transjordan not be under the Palestine 
administration, and that the Transjordan government, under 
Abdullah, be given the greatest measure of control of the affairs 
of government. The new policy called for more stringent finan- 
cial control and for more direct influence on the administration 
in general by the Palestine government. 

British New Policy and Control 

On April 21, Colonel C. H. F. Cox, a former district governor 
in Palestine, was named chief British representative; about two 
weeks later Arslan resigned and Ali Riza Rikabi Pasha, described 
by the British as a "sound and experienced administrator," 
became chief minister. In a statement before the Permanent 
Mandates Commission, Sir Herbert Samuel declared that since 
the situation in Transjordan was not satisfactory, especially as 
regards finances, the British Government had asked the Amir 
to "accept a wider measure of control at the hands of the British 
representative, and that the Amir had accepted." Samuel asserted 
that in view of the bad financial position, the British repre- 
sentative was exercising strict control not only over the general 
budget but also over the Civil List. 22 

Following the appointment of Colonel Cox, the entire Trans- 
jordan administration was overhauled. More British advisers 
were introduced, a new budget was adopted, rigid economies 
were enforced and drastic reductions made in expenditures. The 
original budget for 1924/25, as prepared by the Transjordan 
government, showed a deficit of LEI 52,000; the revised estimates 
showed a deficit of only LE43,000; Abdullah's own expenses 
were cut by one-third. The British government was unwilling 
to underwrite the deficit, even the reduced deficit, until the 
financial house of Transjordan had been put in order. In August 
1924 the Amir, with the concurrence of his ministers, consented 
to a new system of accounting and financial control. The grant- 
in-aid for the financial year 1923/24 amounted to LE150,000; 
the financial assistance to Transjordan in 1924/25 under the 
direct supervision of the Palestine government was LE60,000. 

22 League of Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the 
Fifth Session (Geneva, 1924), 61. 


The British representative before the Permanent Mandates Com- 
mission, W. Ormsby Gore, stated frankly on October 26, 1925 
that "the chief British representative, Colonel Cox, was exer- 
cising effective influence. In actual fact the country was governed 
by a triumvirate consisting of Amir Abdullah, Colonel Cox, and 
the chief minister, Rikabi Pasha." 23 

Until about 1922 Transjordan was of no particular military 
importance, but after the British government decided that the 
air routes to Iraq and India should pass over Transjordan, the 
territory became an important key in the structure of the empire, 
and a Royal Air Force base was established at Amman and an 
airdrome at Ziza. The British government gave as its justification 
for stationing the RAF in the territory the maintenance of the 
air route to Bagdad. 24 

23 League of Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the 
Seventh Session (Geneva, 1925), 100. 

24 Philby said at the end of 1924: "It was recenty stated in Parliament that 
uninterrupted maintenance of the air route to Bagdad is one of the material 
benefits accruing to Great Britain from the presence of the Amir in Trans- 
Tordan. From that opinion I dissent with respect, but absolutely. It is, on the 
contrary, to the Royal Air Force, that the Amir Abdullah owes his presence 
in Trans-Jordan today." See statement of the Duke of Sutherland in the House 
of Lords, Great Britain, PJ)JL. t 49, col. 161, Feb. 21, 1922. 

Chapter IX 

Conditions in 1918-1920 

THE QUESTION of internal order in the territory of 
Transjordan became serious even while Faisal was in 
Damascus, for his administration never actually extended 
into that "backward" region. So long as the British military 
forces were there, the war regime maintained some semblance 
of order and held the desert bedouins in check. But when the 
treaty with France was signed at the end of 1919 and the British 
withdrew, Transjordan rapidly reverted to a state of lawlessness, 
and the struggle between the settled population and the bed- 
ouins began again. In April 1920 the San Remo Conference 
assigned the territory to Great Britain as part of the Palestine 
mandate; the following August the Palestine High Commissioner 
went to as Salt where he advised the various shaikhs to set up 
local administrations and supplied them with British officers to 
guide them. At the same time he charged Captain F. G. Peake 
with the formation of a force for the maintenance of public 
safety. It is not clear whether that force was meant to cover the 
entire area or only part of it. 

Peake was not a newcomer to the territory. During the war he 
had been in charge of the Egyptian Camel Corps which partici- 
pated in the operations against the Turks. When the British 
decided to evacuate Transjordan, Peake was sent back with the 
Camel Corps to Cairo for demobilization, after which he was to 
return to Palestine, where he had been offered a post in the 
Palestine police. However, when he arrived in Jerusalem he 
was told that he had been posted to Amman and was to go there 
immediately and report on the state of the gendarmerie. 

Peake went to Amman, returned to Palestine and reported 
that whatever existed of a gendarmerie was not worth salvaging. 



He asked authority to enlist 100 men and five officers, whose pay 
would be guaranteed by the Palestine government, for the pur- 
pose o keeping order in Amman and along the road to Palestine. 
The request was approved by the High Commissioner in 
October; two months later Peake was advised to recruit an addi- 
tional fifty gendarmes to police Karak. It is to this approval of 
the High Commissioner that the origin of the future Arab 
Legion must be traced. 

Approval of the High Commissioner was one thing; recruit- 
ment was another. Trans Jordanians were simply unwilling to 
enlist in the force. Meanwhile, Abdullah was waiting at Maan 
for the British reaction to his avowed intention to enter Trans- 
jordan. Peake went to Cairo to attend the Middle East confer- 
ence. When he returned to Amman he was selected as one of 
Abdullah's British advisers in setting up the new administration. 
He was given the rank of major (zaim), placed in charge of 
public security, and granted authorization to raise a force of 
750 men. 

Kura Incident 

One of the main difficulties the new central government en- 
countered was the unwillingness of the population to pay taxes. 
The settled elements were particularly resistant; they argued 
that they were asked to pay heavy taxes while the bedouins were 
free of all imposts, making them practically a privileged class. 
In order to collect the imposts, the government had recourse to 
its newly organized force. The villagers of Kura, in the Ajlun 
district in the northern part of the territory, refusing to pay, 
the government while Peake was away at a conference in Jeru- 
salemordered the one-hundred-man force to march on the 
village. "The result," in Peake's words, "was disastrous." The 
entire force marched blindly into an area where it was com- 
pletely surrounded. Eighteen men were killed and the rest sur- 
rendered, losing their horses and arms. 1 This incident certainly 
did not enhance the prestige of the Arab force, and Peake's task 
of bringing the Reserve Force up to its authorized strength 
became next to impossible. The 250 men and twenty-five officers 
who had come to Amman with Abdullah were practically dis- 

1 Peake, "Trans- Jordan," Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, XXVI, 
384, July, 1939. 


banded and Major Peake had to recruit from scratch. Hostility 
to recruitment came from different elements. 

Peake maintained that the future of the territory depended on 
the cultivator, who must be protected against his desert neighbor. 
"When I first came to Trans-Jordan/' he said, "the nomads were 
beginning to encroach on the cultivated areas. ... I set to work, 
therefore, at once to check this growing power of the nomad 
tribes. My policy was to raise a Force from the sedentary, or 
village, Arabs, which would gradually be able to check the 
Beduin and allow an Arab government to rule the country with- 
out fear or interference from tribal chiefs/' 2 The bedouins were 
therefore determined to prevent the enlistment of recruits in 
order to maintain their position; in fact, they threatened poten- 
tial candidates with murder. Other opponents, taking advantage 
of the old suspicion of conscription dating from the Turkish 
regime, spread rumors that enlistment was only the first step 
toward conscription, and this served as a powerful deterrent to 
many who might otherwise have enlisted. Some of the high Arab 
officials in the administration, who had been Syrian officers, 
resented Peake's position in the new government and worked 
against his recruitment efforts. 

Character of Security Force 

Peake gave up all hope of recruiting his men in Transjordan 
and went to Palestine, where he found Egyptians, Sudanese, Pales- 
tinians and others who were seeking employment. He signed up 
some 250 men who became the basis of the reorganized Trans- 
Jordan Reserve Force. He obtained uniforms from the British 
army disposal boards and armed his recruits with German rifles 
picked up at various battlefields. The arrival of men with arms 
stunned the Transjordanians who" "were sure they had defeated 
the government's efforts to form a local force. The very founda- 
tion of the future Arab Legion was thus laid by foreign personnel 
and against the wishes, if not the open hostility, of the 

The Reserve Force was constantly called upon to suppress the 
uprisings in protest against Abdullah's taxation system. Abdullah 
credited it with putting down disaffection and establishing se- 
curity in the districts of Balqa, Karak and Maan, and in Wadi 

2 Jarvis, Arab Command, 61 . 


Musa and its vicinity. Peake reported that the people of Kura 
revolted again the following year and refused to pay taxes, but 
this time the Reserve Force, assisted by the Royal Air Force, 
brought about their submission. 3 

The Adwan Rising 

On August 20, 1923, Sultan Pasha Abu Adwan, head of the 
Adwan tribe, presented a program of reform for the Abdullah 
regime, the most important item of which was strict economy 
to balance the budget and relieve the country of the heavy taxa- 
tion. The Adwan especially resented the gifts that Abdullah 
freely bestowed on the Beni Sakhr and others of his favorites. 
Supported by many of the Balqa tribes, and with the sympathy 
of a great part of the country, Sultan rose against Abdullah on 
September 5. He sent an ultimatum to the chief British repre- 
sentative that if he intervened on Abdullah's behalf, he, Sultan, 
would report him to the Colonial Secretary. Philby warned 
Sultan to disband his forces immediately. Abdullah, according 
to Philby, was ready to flee at a moment's notice. When the 
Adwan advanced on Amman, they were met by the armored 
cars of the Royal Air Force and cavalry units of the Reserve 
Force. The Transjordan Arab regime was saved. 

The Reserve Force was enlarged, at the beginning of 1924, 
to a strength of 1,200 officers and men, but when Colonel Cox 
introduced a financial retrenchment policy, the Force was cut 
to 1,000 officers and men. It cost 98,000 that year to maintain. 

The Arab Legion 

At the beginning, the Reserve Force was organized as a minia- 
ture army, with two companies of infantry, two squadrons of 
cavalry, a troop of artillery and a signals section. Simultaneously, 
a civil police of a few hundred men was maintained. On October 
22, 1923 an order was issued which merged the two into the 
Arab Legion. Peake was naturally put in command and given a 
free hand to organize the public security forces throughout 
the territory. 

The 1924 report of the Mandatory to the Council of the 
League of Nations stated that public security in Transjordan 

3 This gained for Peake promotion from zaim to lewa. 


was maintained by a locally recruited force known as the Arab 
Legion. The commanding officer and second-in-command were 
British; there were forty officers and 950 men in mounted and 
dismounted units. The same report underlined the fact that the 
Arab Legion had been raised and trained to a satisfactory state 
of efficiency in the face of immeasurable difficulties; it then 
pointedly added that "with the occasional assistance of the Royal 
Air Force stationed at Amman [the Legion] has succeeded in its 
difficult task of controlling the territory. The fact that the RAF 
detachment was available to reinforce the local units, although 
it was stationed in Transjordan to maintain the air routes of 
empire, considerably strengthened "the position of the Trans- 
Jordan Government." 4 

The Wahhabi Attacks 

Despite the Legion's military character, it could do no more 
than maintain internal order; when serious trouble developed, 
as in the Adwan uprising, it had to call on the Royal Air Force 
to maintain the Arab regime. Grave external dangers also beset 
Transjordan, and the Legion could not guarantee the security 
of the country. Raids from the desert of Arabia were a common 
occurrence, particularly during the summer months. These were 
carried out by Ibn Saud and his Wahhabis. Now that the ter- 
ritory was ruled by the Hashimis, Ibn Saud's eternal enemies, 
there was the additional religious motivation, and the raids 
were intensified. In August 1922 some 1,500 Wahhabis came out 
of central Arabia and occupied the oasis of Jauf in the Wadi 
Sirhan; from there they advanced beyond the Hijaz railway line 
near the Royal Air Force airfield at Ziza. On their way to Amman 
they fell upon the small village of Turaib and massacred the 
entire population. Suddenly a Royal Air Force plane appeared 
overhead and frightened the invaders, who retreated so fast that 
by the time the news of their invasion reached Amman and 
airplanes were sent out, they had completely disappeared. 

A much more serious invasion took place in 1924. Following 
the same route, some 5,000 Wahhabis on camels penetrated 
within five miles of Amman before they were discovered. Near 
Kaf they had come upon an Arab Legion ration convoy and 
had massacred all eighteen men in the convoy. Armored cars 

4 Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report . . . 1924, Col. No. 12, 69-70. 


from Amman and a squadron of RAF planes from Jerusalem 
attacked and defeated the Wahhabis. Their casualties were over 
500; the losses of the local population, primarily from the Beni 
Sakhr, were ISO dead and wounded. Abdullah reported that the 
Wahhabis who were not killed by the British fled into the desert 
and were either hunted down by the Transjordanian tribesmen 
or perished of thirst or hunger. The severity of the RAF action 
evoked from Arnold Toynbee the remark that "the Wahhabi 
raiders in Transjordan were as roughly handled by British troops 
in August as the first Islamic raiders in the same region had been 
handled by the Romans at Mutah in A.D. 629." The Mandatory 
reported: "This prompt and energetic action of the Royal Air 
Force averted a serious menace to the peace of Transjordan and 
the safety of its capital." 5 

This demonstrated that the Arab government of Transjordan 
depended on British military forces to protect it against internal 
disaffection as well as external dangers. It is very likely that the 
1924 experience led the British to decide to reduce the Arab 
Legion to a mere police force. 

In reporting about his five years as High Commissioner for 
Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel summarized the public order and 
security situation in Transjordan thus: "Order is maintained 
by a local force, named the Arab Legion, with an establishment 
of 55 officers and 972 men, under a British commanding officer 
and a British second in command. The Royal Air Force has at 
Amman a flight of airplanes, a section of four armored cars, and 
an aerodrome, which is the starting point for the trans-desert 
journey to Baghdad. The Air Force has rendered most useful 
service in repelling, with promptitude and effectiveness, raids 
across the desert attempted, in 1922 and 1924, by considerable 
forces of Wahhabis from Nejd against Trans-Jordan and its 

Debacle in the Hijaz 

The final phase of Transjordan's security question in the 

5 Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report . . . 1924, Col. No. 12, 69; Memoirs of 
King Abdullah, 214; Arnold Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1925, 
I, 278-279; Peake, "Trans-Jordan/' Journal of the Royal Central Asian So- 
ciety, XXVI, 341, July, 1939; Norman Bentwich, England in Palestine (Lon- 
don, 1932), 135-136; Toukan, A Short History of Transjordan f 47; Nelson 
Glueck, The Other Side of Jordan (New Haven, 1940), 6. 



Legionaries at Legion headquarters at Amman, October 1957 


period ending in 1925 was the debacle in the Hijaz. As men- 
tioned in a previous chapter, hostilities between Husain of the 
Hijaz and Ibn Saud of Najd were renewed in the immediate 
post-war period, while both were recipients of British subsidies. 
The British hoped that they could bring the two together and 
work out a satisfactory peace, but were unsuccessful. They then 
made efforts to bring about the realization of the original Sha- 
rifian policy by concluding a treaty with the King of the Hijaz, 
but again Husain refused to come to terms with them. At the 
end of 1921 Colonel Lawrence was sent to Jidda with two 
objectives: to obtain Husain's signature to the Treaty of Ver- 
sailles, which would make him a member of the League of 
Nations; and to a bilateral treaty with Great Britain which 
would normalize and regularize relations between the two coun- 
tries, Husain stubbornly refused to sign either treaty the Ver- 
sailles Treaty because of his reported objections to Article 22, 
establishing the former Ottoman territories in Asia as mandates; 
the bilateral treaty because of the limitations it put on his 
claims against Ibn Saud. According to Lawrence, Husain sought 
hegemony over other Arab areas, and he clung to his self- 
assumed title of King. 

The unknown factor which kept the British interested in 
Husain was the Caliphate, to which Husain laid claim and 
which, if attained, would make him a potential rallying point 
of the Islamic world. For this the British were willing to pay 
a price. As a first step, plans were advanced for a limited Arab 
federation comprising the territories under Hashimite admin- 
istration, whose head would be Husain, and from there he 
would proceed to the Caliphate. 

In the meantime, the British took steps to normalize relations 
between Iraq and the Najd. The boundary between the terri- 
tories had never been defined, and raids from one to the other 
aggravated relations between the two countries, especially after 
Ibn Saud extended his conquest to Hail and Shammar. In the 
fall of 1922 the High Commissioner for Iraq, Sir Percy Cox, 
convened a conference in Uqair in which representatives of Iraq 
and the Najd participated. The outcome was a complete under- 
standing. Ibn Saud was recognized as the ruler of Hail, Sham- 
mar and Jauf. The disputed area between the two countries was 
declared a neutral zone where the tribes of both sides would 
have equal rights of pasturage. This accord made Husain even 


angrier with his son, who had made peace with his arch enemy, 
and with the British. 

Husain in Amman 

On January 18, 1924, King Husain arrived in Amman on a 
visit to his son, the Amir. The official purpose of the visit was 
to get into close touch with the Arabs of Palestine and to discuss 
the Palestine problem with the High Commissioner and the 
Chief Secretary of Palestine, Sir Gilbert Clayon, Husain's con- 
duct was embarrassing both to his son and to the British, for 
as soon as he arrived he proceeded to treat Transjordan as 
though it were part of his own territory and Abdullah merely 
one of his subordinates. The situation grew worse from day 
to day, and it was apparent that unless Husain left the man- 
dated territory, there was bound to be trouble. In the midst 
of all this, the opportunity for which the British and Husain 
were waiting, came. 

On March 3, 1924 the Turkish Grand National Assembly 
abolished the Caliphate; four days later, through the efforts of 
Abdullah but not without his own inspiration, Husain was 
proclaimed "prince of the Faithful, successor of the Prophet/' 
The reaction of the Muslim world was not long in coining* 
Violent opposition broke out in Egypt; the Muslims of India 
expressed their bitter opposition; the Najd vowed to prevent 
Husain from becoming Caliph. Suddenly the British realized 
that they had "backed the wrong horse all the time." The very 
basis of the Sharifian policy completely disappeared: Husain 
was not the Muslim rallying point; he was unwilling to cooperate 
with them; he was overbearing and constantly provoking Ibn 
Saud. Why, then, should they continue to subsidize Ibn Saud 
in order to prevent him from attacking Husain? They now felt 
that they owed Husain nothing and would be justified in 
abandoning him to his own devices. 

The first thing was to get him out of Transjordan. The hints 
dropped by the British representative, the High Commissioner 
himself, that he might have overstayed his welcome produced 
no results except pleasant smiles. Alec Kirkbride, who had had 
previous experience in Transjordan and was assisting with its 
administration, was then instructed to tell the King outright 
that it was time he returned to the Hijaz. On March 20 Husain 


left Amman for Jidda, via Maan and Aqaba. This much ac- 
complished, the British took the next step and stopped the 
5,000 monthly subsidy to Ibn Saud, thus giving clear notice 
to Husain's rival that he was free to deal with his enemy as he 
saw fit 

Ibn Saud Attacks 

Ibn Saud launched his first attack on Husain at Taif on 
August 24, and from there he marched on Mecca. Some six 
weeks later Husain abdicated in favor of his son AH and left 
for Jidda, from where he proceeded, in the middle of October, 
to Aqaba. His yacht lay off the shore until June, when he was 
ordered by the Transjordan authorities to leave Aqaba and 
seek residence elsewhere; they felt that his presence might 
expose the port to an attack by the Wahhabis. Husain went on 
to Cyprus where he took up permanent residence; neither the 
kingdom of his son Faisal nor the amirate of his son Abdullah 
could afford asylum to the former King of the Hijaz. 

Meantime, the Wahhabis entered Mecca on October 14, 1924, 
and Ali withdrew to Jidda. He appealed to the British, but they 
refused to intervene. Finally, at the end of 1925, Ali announced 
his withdrawal from the Hijaz, in notes to the foreign consuls 
in Jidda. The Wahhabis entered the city on December 19, and 
on the 25th Ibn Saud announced that the war was over. Trans- 
Jordan forces occupied the Maan-Aqaba area. 

The Maan-Aqaba Area 

The acquisition of Maan-Aqaba by Transjordan is one of the 
most confused chapters in that country's history. Originally 
that is, during the Faisal administration of Damascus the area 
was claimed by Faisal as well as by his father, while it was 
actually administered by neither, but by the local shaikhs. When 
Abdullah was established in Transjordan, the British displayed 
no particular desire to bring this most backward part of back- 
ward Transjordan under the active administration of the new 
regime. It was not advisable to antagonize Husain, with whom 
they still hoped to come to terms. The overall Sharifian policy 
still prevailed, and if they achieved its successful realization, 
Aqaba would be available for British purposes whether it was 


under Abdullah or under Husain. However, after Husain's 
defeat, the British were determined to keep Maan-Aqaba as 
part of Transjordan, as it was the outlet to the Red Sea by way 
of the Gulf of Aqaba. They therefore urged Husain to give 
the area to Transjordan. The very fact that Husain was asked 
to give it up would indicate that it was considered part of the 
Hijaz and so would belong to the successor to Hijaz, Ibn Saud, 
who claimed it. 

The British evaded making a clearcut statement as to the 
area's original status. Peake asserted that it was not part of the 
Hijaz but had only been "administered by King Husain since 
the fall of Faisal" and that it "reverted to Transjordan" after 
the fall of Husain. Bentwich elaborated the point; he declared 
that the former Turkish sanjaq of Maan had been claimed by 
the King of Hijaz as part of his domain, "and during a certain 
period the British representative in Transjordan acquiesced in 
that claim to the extent of allowing the King to administer the 
part of the Hijaz railway which ran through it. Husain, out 
of paternal considerations, had granted the administration of 
the area to his son Abdullah. Thus Abdullah's authority in the 
southern part of the country stemmed from a different source 
than did his authority in the central and northern parts. But 
when Husain's kingdom collapsed "the area was brought more 
directly and certainly under the authority of the Emirate of 
Transjordan and the complications of title were cut" 

The Mandatory's 1925 official report to the Council of the 
League of Nations, contradicting Bentwich somewhat, stated 
that: "The Maan vilayet, which although within the territory 
under British Mandate, had been administered by the Hijaz 
government, was brought under the administration of die 
Transjordan government in the course of the year." No explana- 
tion was given why, if it were in the territory under the British 
mandate, it had been administered by the Hijaz government, 
nor by what authority the British government had permitted 
the Hijaz to administer it. 

Philby expressed his opinion that the area was in the Hijaz. 
Jarvis stated that the British based their claim on the ground 
that the area under the Turks had formed part of the vilayet 
of Damascus, and as soon as the British had sent off Husain 
from Aqaba to Cyprus, they had ordered Abdullah to take it 
over and garrison it. The reason Husain had been allowed to 


control it until his collapse, according to Jarvis, was that the 
British had so many difficulties in the area at the time that 
they were content to leave it to Husain. 

Sir Alexander B. Kennedy, writing while Ali was still 
struggling against Ibn Saud, noted after giving detailed informa- 
tion of the actual development of the area from 1918 to 1924, 
that the British government had made a tentative suggestion to 
the new King of Hijaz that the Maan province should be trans- 
ferred to Transjordan as part of the territory under British 
mandate for its greater security against possibe Wahhabi 
attacks. This would be a contradiction of terms. If it belonged 
to Hijaz, how could it become part of the British mandate? 
If it was part of the British mandate, why did it have to be 
transferred to Transjordan? 

It would seem that Husain not only claimed Maan as part of 
the Hijaz, but that it was also so recognized by the British, al- 
though efforts were made from time to time, no doubt by some 
British officials, to obtain the area for Transjordan. In 1922 it 
was reported in Amman that Husain had transferred Maan to 
Abdullah; in 1924, while Husain was visiting in Transjordan, 
the report was again revived, but this time it was apparently so 
embarrassing to the Transjordan government that the British 
found it necessary to deny the report officially. However, on 
June 24, 1925, when Husain was ordered to leave Aqaba, Colonel 
Leopold S. Amery declared in the House of Commons that 
Great Britain had never recognized Aqaba as falling within 
the limits of the Hijaz, nor had it ever formally assented to its 
occupation by the Hijazis, and that the Transjordan government 
was taking steps to assert its authority there. Two weeks later 
Amery told the House of Commons that the British govern* 
ment had more than once made it clear that the frontier between 
Transjordan, the Hijaz and Najd, though never precisely 
defined, was to have included Aqaba within Transjordan; that 
while it had acquiesced in the indeterminate status of the Maan 
and Aqaba districts pending a final delimitation of the frontiers, 
it felt bound, in pursuance of its declaration of neutrality in 
the Husain-Ibn Saud war, to take measures to establish the 
control of the Transjordan administration over the area for 
which the British government regarded itself responsible under 
the British mandate, when it appeared that it was being used 
by Husain for military purposes. 


The Permanent Mandates Commission was disturbed at the 
method employed by the Mandatory in establishing its authority 
in the Maan-Aqaba area. In 1925 W. Ormsby-Gore, appearing 
before the Commission, gave the same explanation as had been 
given in the House of Commons. However, a year later, on 
June 22, Colonel G. S. Symes, Chief Secretary of the Palestine 
administration, when asked again about the Aqaba-Maan matter, 
declared: "The whole territory had been extremely disorganized. 
King Hussein had marched into the country and set up a 
primitive form of administration. The Mandatory Administra- 
tion had started negotiations for his withdrawal from mandated 
territory, but King Hussein had abdicated from the throne of 
the Hedjaz before these negotiations had been completed. The 
Mandatory Administration had thereupon taken possession of 
the country. The fact that Amir Abdullah was the son of King 
Hussein necessitated a certain tact in dealing with the latter's 

The Commission was not satisfied and requested the Man- 
datory to investigate further the legal status of the area. In 
1935 Great Britain reported that research into the Turkish 
records was a very difficult task. It had established that in 1893 
the Maan-Aqaba area was part of the vilayet of Damascus. Yet 
in 1904 the sub-district of Aqaba was included in the vilayet 
of Hijaz, and at the same time, between that year and 1910, 
an independent sanjaq, or district of Medina, had been formed 
which included Aqaba. The Mandatory stated that there was 
reason to believe that the Aqaba sub-district was, for some 
period between 1910 and 1915, attached to the vilayet of Syria, 
but that by the summer of 1915 it had reverted to the inde- 
pendent sanjaq of Medina. 

Abdullah himself gave Ali's consent as the basis for his occupa- 
tion of the area. A few days after Husain left Aqaba, Abdullah 
issued the following declaration: "On the authority of His 
Hijazi Majesty, King Ali, King of the Holy Hijaz, we declare 
the districts of Maan and Aqaba to be part of the Amirate of 
Transjordan. On behalf of our people and Government we 
express our heartfelt thanks to His Majesty." 6 

6 In a letter to the London Times, dated Nicosia, Aug. 7, 1925 and pub- 
lished on Aug. 10, Husain protested the annexation of Maan-Aqaba by Trans- 


The Hadda Agreement 

In September 1925 the British government dispatched Sir 
Gilbert Clayton to Jidda to negotiate with Ibn Saud on the 
Najd-Transjordan and Najd-Iraq boundaries. The result was 
the Hadda Agreement. Najd was completely separated from 
Syria by a 60-mile-wide corridor which connected Transjordan 
with Iraq, for which the British, however, undertook to secure 
freedom of transit for Najd merchants across Jordan territory 
into Syria. Ibn Saud obtained almost the whole of Wadi Sirhan, 
in return for which he undertook to prevent Wahhabi incursions 
into Transjordan. As regards the Maan-Aqaba area, although 
the southeastern point of the boundary between Najd and Trans- 
jordan was marked, the line to be drawn from there to the 
Gulf of Aqaba was not delimited. Ibn Saud was not ready to 
give up his claim to the Maan-Aqaba region. Indeed, at the 
Islamic Congress held in Mecca in June 1926 to discuss the 
question of the Caliphate and the status of the Hijaz, he 
succeeded in having a resolution passed which stated that, 
historically, Aqaba and Maan were integral parts of the Hijaz 
and their annexation to Transjordan was a direct violation of 
the Prophet Muhammad's dying injunction against a non- 
Muslim power's ruling part of the Holy Land. The resolution 
requested the Congress to protest the annexation and instructed 
the ruler of the Hijaz to do everything in his power to obtain 
the retrocession. 7 

7 Peake, "Trans-Jordan," Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, XXVI, 
389, July, 1939; Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1925, I, 313-314, 341- 
346; Memoirs of King Abdullah, 217; Kennedy, Petra, 4; Bentwich, England 
in Palestine, 128-129; Jarvis, Arab Command, 119; Philby/'The Dead Sea to 
Aqaba," The Geographical Journal, LXVI, 148, Aug., 1925; Great Britain, 
Colonial Office, Report . . . 1925, Col. No. 20, 60; League of Nations, Permanent 
Mandates Commission, Minutes of the Seventh Session, 98; Minutes of the 
Ninth Session, 164; Report . . . 1935, Col. No. 112, 282. 

In the Turko-Egyptian treaty of Oct. 1, 1906, Aqaba and Maan were recog- 
nized as part of the Hijaz. Leon Krajewski, "La Politique Anglaise en Arabic," 
Revue de Paris, 411, Mar. 15, 1928. On May 21, 1927 a new treaty was signed 
between Ibn Saud and Great Britain, replacing the 1915 treaty. It contained 
an exchange of letters between Sir Gilbert Clayton and Ibn Saud in which Sir 
Gilbert outlined the southern boundary between Transjordan and the Hijaz; 
this placed the Maan-Aqaba district within Transjordan. In reply, the King 
recorded his dissent from the British view but indicated his willingness to 
maintain the status quo in the area and promised "not to interfere in its 
administration until favorable circumstances" should "permit a final settle- 
ment of this question." Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report . . . 1934, Col. 
No. 104, 299-300. This reservation of Ibti Saud's is for all intents and purposes 
still in effect. 


The British proceeded to incorporate the disputed area fully 
into their administration of Transjordan, and in their 1925 
report to the Council of the League of Nations they stated that 
for the policing of the Maan vilayet, 131 Legionaries and 124 
police officers and men had been added to their force. 8 

The Legion and the Frontier Force 

The second High Commissioner for Palestine, Field Marshal 
Lord Herbert C. Plumer, was determined to integrate Palestine 
and Transjordan more closely into the British Empire defense 
system. Transjordan had already become an important way 
station in British air routes to Iraq and the Far East, and Plumer 
proceeded to strengthen its military position, but keeping it 
safely in British hands. The Arab Legion was completely relieved 
of its military duties and its responsibility was restricted to 
internal police routines. A new force, named the Transjordan 
Frontier Force, under the control of the Royal Air Force and 
responsible for the military defense, was formed on April 1, 1926. 
It was also to be available to help the Arab Legion if called 
upon. The British reported to the League of Nations that the 
Arab Legion had been reduced from 1,472 officers and men to 
855, and that it had been reorganized as a dismounted urban, 
and as a partly mounted and partly dismounted rural, constabu- 
lary. The Transjordan Arab Legion Law of 1927 defined the 
Legion's duties as prevention and detection of crime, appre- 
hension of offenders, safe custody of prisoners, and maintenance 
of public order and of the safety of persons and property. 

The Transjordan Frontier Force, recruited from the former 
Palestine gendarmerie and trained in Palestine, was moved 
across the Jordan in October 1926. In April 1927 its head- 
quarters and garrison were established at Zarqa. Its main duties 
were to deal with any inter-tribal trouble west of the Hijaz 
railway, and to operate against enemy raiders or tribes advancing 
into Transjordan from the desert east of the Hijaz railway. At 
the beginning the Force consisted of seventeen British officers, 
and the rank and file were Circassians, Arabs, Sudanese, and 
some Jews. The cost of its maintenance was to be borne by 
Palestine, five-sixths, and by Transjordan, one-sixth, as it was 

8 Peake was promoted to ferik, full general. 


held that the Force also protected Palestine. The Transjordan 
share, however, was met by a special grant from the British 
exchequer. 9 

9 Abdullah reported that during Plumer's regime "the Arab Army was 
reduced in numbers and was relieved of its artillery, and the Transjordan 
Frontier Force was constituted. I was opposed to these measures. . . .In spite 
of the Transjordan-British Treaty, the strength of the Arab Legion was re- 
duced by the removal of its artillery, and instead the Transjordan Frontier 
Force was formed." Memoirs of King Abdullah, 227, 232. 

Chapter X 


Administrative Divisions 

A)MINISTRATIVELY the country was at first divided 
into three major districts Ajlun in the north, Balqa in 
the center, and Karak in the south. Each was headed by 
a mutasarif, or district commissioner, who presided over an 
administrative council composed of two official and four unof- 
ficial members. The area of Amman and the surrounding Cir- 
cassian villages was formed into a separate unit known as 
Muhafazza al Asmeh (Ward of the Capital). After the Hashimis 
lost the Hijaz, Maan was formed into a fifth district, and in 
1931 the desert area came under the direct administration of 
the Arab Legion. 

The size of the population since no census was ever conducted 
was always subject to estimates, and they differed substantially 
from one time to another. In 1921 the High Commissioner for 
Palestine estimated the total population as 350,000. As for its 
composition, he did not even venture any guess, but merely 
stated that the people were partly settled townsmen and agri- 
culturalists, and partly wandering bedouins, the latter cultivating 
more or less fixed areas during certain seasons of the year. Three 
years later the Mandatory reported to the Council of the League 
of Nations that the population was thought to be in the neigh- 
borhood of 200,000, of whom some 10,000 were Circassians and 
Chechens, about 15,000 Christian Arabs, and the remainder in 
the main Muslim Arabs. As to distribution, the report stated 
that the grassland margin formed the summer pastures of the 
camel-owning bedouins such as the Beni Sakhr and the Huwaitat, 
who in winter moved further east for pasturage, roaming as 
far as Jauf ; west of the railway were the wheat and barley lands 



of the Karak, Balqa and Ajlun tribes, the Circassian colonies 
in the Balqa, and the numerous Arab villages in the north. The 
only towns of size were Amman, as Salt and Karak. Population 
concentration was heaviest in the extreme north, and it gradually 
decreased to the southward. 

In 1926 the population was estimated at 305,000; two years 
later the Mandatory reported that while the figure was as yet 
undetermined, it probably fell short of 250,000. The figure of 
305,000, however, persisted. In 1934 it was remarked that in spite 
of the natural increase of about 11 per thousand, during the 
years 1930-1934 the total population figure was stationary at 
SOSjOOO. 1 In 1929 the population was described as divided into 
three sections: settled, semi-nomadic, and nomadic. The settled 
population lived in simple houses and villages; the semi-nomads, 
preserving the tribal character to some extent, lived in tents, 
camped on and cultivated their own lands, and possessed stone 
houses for their grain. The nomads bothered very little with 
cultivation but depended on herds of camels, sheep and goats 
for subsistence. They roamed over many hundreds of miles in 
search of pasture, ranging between the desert east of the Hijaz 
railway and the eastern fringe of the cultivated area. That year 
the total population was estimated at 300,000: 130,000 settled, 
220,000 semi-nomads, and 50,000 nomads. 

Taxation System 

Since the Transjordan administration was in a sense the suc- 
cessor government to the Ottoman Empire, it at first followed 
the pre-war Turkish taxation system. Because of the nature of 
the territory, taxes had been levied exclusively on land and 
agricultural products. There were four distinct types of taxes: 
tithe on agricultural crops, animal tax; house and land tax; 
and road tax. However, because of the distance of the territory 
from the central government in Istanbul, and because of its 
general backwardness, the collection of taxes was desultory and 
ineffective, and always subject to the arbitrariness of the indi- 
vidual collectors. Even in their statutory regulations the taxes 
were not uniform for the various sections of the territory, -which 
only added to the farmers* determination to avoid payment. It 

I Arnold J. Toynbee (ed.), Survey of International Affairs 1934 (London, 
1935), 252. 


is therefore understandable why some of the inhabitants in 
the north, as well as in the south, resented the attempts of the 
new regime to collect taxes. After the financial reorganization 
in October 1924, efforts were made to collect the levies on the 
basis of the old principles, but by methods adjusted to the new 
realities. In 1925 the old house and land tax on municipal 
holdings, originally based on capital evaluation, was replaced 
by a tax of 5 to 10 per cent of rental income, depending on how 
the property was used. 

The undefined nature of the boundaries of Transjordan with 
the neighboring countries, and the territory's special relations 
with Palestine and other neighbors which were formerly part of 
the Ottoman Empire, made it difficult to establish a Trans- 
Jordan 'tariff of customs duties. Only in 1929 was a tariff of 
12 per cent ad valorem basis enacted. Since the country was 
primarily agricultural, however, and primitive in its economic 
development, income from customs duties did not add greatly 
to the government's revenue. 

Under the Turks the manufacture of tobacco was a govern- 
ment monopoly, the administration of which was in private 
hands and the income from which was credited to the Ottoman 
public debt. This monopoly was abolished in 1927 and the 
manufacture of tobacco was licensed and made subject to excise 
tax. Similarly, in 1928, the government abolished the old 
intoxicating liquors law, and manufacture and sale of alcoholic 
beverages were permitted on the basis of license and excise tax. 2 

With all the modifications of the old system and the rigid 
and methodical enforcement of collection, the government 
revenue remained very small, and except for the British subsidy 
it could not have existed, as is evidenced from the figures in 
Table I. 

Land Regime 

The greatest and most challenging task the Transjordan 
administration faced was no doubt the basic land regime. Both 
from the long-range and historical point of view, as well as the 
immediate objective, the security of the settled area and its 
extension into the desert were the main preoccupations of the 
new government. The ultimate as well as the immediate objec- 

2 A. Konikoff, Transjordan: An Economic Survey (Jerusalem, 1946), 87-94. 




(in pounds sterling) 

Year (including British 


British Grant- 





tives were the protection of the agricultural crops, improving 
the yield and extending cultivation. The establishment of 
ownership of land had to be the first step in realizing these 
objectives. Under the Turkish regime the administration of land 
had been woefully neglected. When the new order was established 
there were no reliable maps, no surveys, and the land registers 
were in a hopelessly chaotic condition. Moreover, the general 
method of cultivation was organized on a system of the periodic 
partition of tribally held land among tribe members in small 
parcels in different parts of the total land holdings. No farmer 
could claim any particular section as permanently his own, and 
consequently he would never attempt to make any improvements. 
This system also prevented more extended cultivation and the 
development of better crops. In 1926 the Trandsjordan admin- 
istration invited Sir Ernest Dowson to study the existing system 
of land tenure and taxation and make recommendations for 
improving agricultural taxation and for establishing a systematic 
and efficient land register. Sir Ernest submitted his report and 
recommendations the following year, and on the basis of these 

3 Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report .... 1935, Col. No. 112, 328. The 
grants-In-aid during the first three years were: 192I/22-180,000; 1922/23 
90,000; 1923/24-l5Q,000;-.R*#ar* of the High Commissioner .... 1920-25, 
Col. No. 15, 54-55. In addition, the British Exchequer advanced to Trans- 
Jordan for its share in the maintenance of the Transjordan Frontier 
Force as follows: 1928/29-27,644; 1929/30-36,975; 1930/31-33,452;- 
Report 1932, Col. No. 82, 208. 


the government undertook (in 1928) a fiscal survey which was 
not completed until 1933. 

In 1928 the Department of Lands and Surveys was formed and 
a sound basis of land administration was laid. This was the 
beginning of a land regime which, though very slowly, success- 
fully led to the establishment of land ownership in the greater 
part of the country, and was perhaps the best system in the 
Arab Middle East. A new tax law was drafted in 1931 (but not 
enacted until 1933) which substituted for the former tithe, land 
and road taxes a uniform 6 per cent tax on production values. 4 

Government Personnel 

With the expanding activities of the government, the need 
for trained executive personnel constantly increased, and with 
the abandonment of the Lawrence-Philby policy of not engaging 
Palestine administration personnel, the Mandatory evolved a 
system of seconding selected officers from the Palestine govern- 
ment for service in Transjordan. In 1926 the Mandatory reported 
that two British officers had been appointed financial and judi- 
cial advisers; the latter was Alec S. Kirkbride. Four Palestinians 
served as Chief Secretary to the government, Postmaster General, 
Director of Public Health, and Director of Public Works. The 
seconding of Palesting administration officers for service in 
Transjordan became the general practice during the following 
years, with a greater tendency toward British officers for the 
more responsible positions. In 1929 the British officials appointed 
by the Amir, on the recommendation of the Executive Council, 
were: judicial adviser, financial adviser, director of customs, 
director of lands and survey, inspector of survey, commander 
and second-in-command of the Arab Legion, inspector of motor 
vehicles, inspector and assistant inspector of antiquities, and 
government bacteriologist. This list of course did not include 
the Resident and his staff. 5 

Slowly, progress was also being made limited by the meager 
financial resources in public education and health. It would 

4 G. F. Walpole, "Land Problems in Transjordan," Journal of the Royal 
Central Asian Society, XXXV, 52-56, July, 1948; Gabriel Baer, "Land Tenure 
in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan," Land Economics, XXXin, 187-197, 
Aug., 1957; Hedley V. Cooke, Challenge and Response in the Middle East. 
The Quest for Prosperity 1919-1951 (New York, 1952), 107-112. I 

5 Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report .... 1929, Col. No. 47, 142. 


seem that while the British were willing to subsidize the Arab 
Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force, they did not display 
the same willingness to do likewise for the educational, health 
and other social needs of the country. There was a general feeling 
among the British, as well as among some Transjordanians, that 
progress was seriously hampered by the uncertainty and vague- 
ness of the territory's political organization. 

Political Developments 

As already stated, Britain's intention to grant independence 
to Transjordan on specific conditions was made public in 1923; 
the next step-to fulfill the conditions was up to Abdullah, 
who seemed to be in no hurry to proceed with the establishment 
of constitutional government. The Amir was inclined to rule 
in an autocratic manner; he made no distinction between public 
administration and his personal acts, between public revenue 
and his private purse; he preferred the paternal rule of the 
shaikh of the desert which he knew so well and under which 
he had lived during the early part of his life, to any system of 
self-rule by the population, no matter how limited. The British 
had to press him, both because of their own immediate needs 
in the territory, as well as their commitment to the Council of 
the League of Nations. Early in 1925 they called Abdullah's 
attention to the fact that the conditions of the independence 
declaration had not yet been met. 

Simultaneously, public pressure in Transjordan was slowly 
building up to the same end. In June 1926 the Chief Minister, 
Rikabi Pasha, resigned; he was replaced by Hassan Khalid Pasha 
Abul Huda, who formed a new government called the Executive 
Council. This body, which had five appointed members instead 
of the previous twenty, passed resolutions which became law 
only after the Amir had given his consent 

In October of that year, the Amir convened an Assembly of 
Notables for the purpose of preparing an electoral law for the 
establishment of a legislative council. The deliberation of this 
Assembly apparently did not satisfy some of the more politically 
advanced leaders, for early the following year they presented a 
memorial to the Amir demanding the establishment of a national 
representative council which would control public finance, lay 
down the bases of government and economic administration by 


native Transjordanians, the substitution of a responsible coun- 
cil of ministers for the Executive Council, a more constructive 
agrarian policy, delimitation of military service to Transjor- 
danian subjects, and dispensing with the British subsidy. 

The 1928 Agreement 

While the agitation for a radical change in the political organ- 
ization of the territory was taking place, the British were nego- 
tiating with Abdullah, and on February 20, 1928 an agreement 
was signed in Jerusalem. Field Marshal Lord Plumer, High 
Commissioner for Palestine, signed for Great Britain, and Chief 
Minister Hassan Khalid Pasha Abul Huda for Transjordan. 
This agreement, which became the main instrumentality to 
regulate relations between Britain and Abdullah until 1946, 
contained a preamble and twenty-one articles. The preamble 
repeated almost verbatim the 1923 declaration of intention for 
Transjordanian independence. The first Article stated that the 
Amir agreed that Great Britain be represented in Transjordan 
by a British Resident "acting on behalf of the High Commis- 
sioner for Transjordan" 6 and that communications between the 
British government and all other powers, on the one hand, and 
the Transjordanian government, on the other, were to be made 
through the British Resident. The Amir also agreed that the 
ordinary expenses of civil government and administration, and 
the salaries and expenses of the British Resident and his staff, 
were to be borne entirely by Transjordan; the Amir was to 
provide quarters for the accommodation of the Resident's staff. 
Article 2, which was a radical departure from the provisions of 
the Palestine Mandate, stated: 

"The powers of legislation and of administration entrusted to 
His Britannic Majesty as Mandatory for Palestine shall be 
exercised in that part of the area under Mandate known as 
Trans-Jordan by His Highness the Amir through such consti- 
tutional government as is defined and determined in the Organic 

6 Until Aug. 12, 1927 the High Commissioners for Palestine had had 
included in their jurisdiction the entire Palestine mandatory area and there 
had been no separate mention of Transjordan; after that date they received 
separate commissions as High Commissioners also for Transjordan. Govern- 
ment of Palestine, A Survey of Palestine Prepared in December 1945 and 
January 1946 For the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of 
Inquiry (Jerusalem, 1946), I, 13-14. 


Law o Trans-Jordan and any amendments thereof made with 
the approval of His Britannic Majesty." 7 

Article 3 declared that for the period of the life of the agree- 
ment, the Amir undertook not to engage any officials other than 
those of Transjordanian nationality without the concurrence of 
the British government. The salaries and conditions of employ- 
ment of British officials by the Transjordanian government 
were to be regulated by a separate agreement. 

In order to assure British control over the administration of 
Transjordan, Article 4 provided that the Amir would see to it 
that all laws, orders, or regulations required for the full discharge 
of the British government's international responsibilities and 
obligations as regards Transjordan would be adopted, and, 
conversely, that no laws, orders or regulations would be made 
that might hamper the full discharge of such responsibilities 
and obligations. In the same vein, in Article 5, the Amir under- 
took to be guided by the advice of the British government, 
tendered through the High Commissioner, in all matters con- 
cerning Transjordan's foreign relations, as well as in all impor- 
tant matters affecting the international and financial obligations 
and interests of the British government in respect of Transjordan. 
To assure a sound financial regime, the Amir undertook to 
pursue an administrative, financial and fiscal policy that would 
ensure the stability and good organization of the government 
and its finances. He promised to keep the British informed of 
the measures proposed and adopted to give effect to this under- 
taking. Similarly, he promised not to alter the system of control 
of public finances without the consent of the British government. 

7 Art. 1 of the Palestine Mandate read: "The Mandatory shall have full 
powers of legislation and of administration, save as they may be limited 
by the terms of this mandate." 

Great Britain submitted the agreement to the Permanent Mandates Com- 
mission of the League of Nations. On June 29, 1928, reporting its findings 
to the Council, the Commission declared that the provision granting the 
Amir legislative and administrative authority "did not seem to be com- 
patible with the stipulation in the Mandate to the effect that the Mandatory 
shall have full powers of legislation and of administration." After hearing 
a statement from the British representative, the Council adopted a resolu- 
tion on Sept 1, 1928 which took note of the British government's declaration 
that it considered itself responsible to the Council for the application in 
Transjordan of the Palestine Mandate and acknowledged that the agree- 
ment of Feb. 20, 1928 was in conformity with the principles of the Mandate. 
The Council ignored the authority of Abdullah, and so far as it was con- 
cerned the responsibility for legislation and administration was that of the 
British government, as provided hi the Palestine Mandate, 


To further strengthen these objectives, Article 6 required the 
Amir to refer, for the advice of the British government, the 
annual budget law and any other law which concerned matters 
covered by the provisions of the agreement; any law concerning 
currency, issue of bank notes, and differential custom duties; 
any law affecting disabilities of persons, nationals of members 
of the League of Nations and nationals of states in treaty rela- 
tions with Great Britain; any law relating to the succession to 
the Amir's throne, granting land or money or gratuity to the 
Amir, the Amir's assuming sovereignty over territory outside 
Transjordan, jurisdiction of the civil courts over foreigners; and 
any law altering, .amending or adding to the details of the pro- 
visions of the Organic Law. 

The customs duties regulations with Palestine were outlined 
in Article 7, and the succeeding Article stated that so far as was 
consistent with the international obligations of the British 
government, no obstacle would be placed in the way of the 
association of Transjordan, for customs and other purposes, with 
such neighboring Arab states as might desire it. 

The military position of the Mandatory was provided for in 
Article 10, which granted him the right to "maintain armed 
forces in Trans-Jordan and [he] may raise, organize and control 
in Trans-Jordan such armed forces as may in his opinion be 
necessary for the defense of the country and to assist His High- 
ness the Amir in the preservation of peace and order." Con- 
versely, Abdullah promised "that he will not raise or maintain 
in Trans-Jordan or allow to be raised or maintained any military 
forces without the consent" of the British government 

The accounting system was formulated in the two following 
Articles. In Article 11 the Amir recognized the principle that 
the cost of the forces required for the defense of Transjordan 
was a charge on the revenue of the territory. When the agree- 
ment came into force, Transjordan was to continue to bear 
one-sixth of the cost of the Transjordan Frontier Force, as well 
as, in so far as the financial resources of the country permitted, 
the excess of the cost of the British forces stationed in Trans- 
jordan over the cost of such forces if stationed in Great Britain, 
and the entire cost of forces raised for Transjordan alone. Article 
12 declared that as long as Transjordan's revenues were insuffi- 
cient to meet such ordinary administration expenses as approved 
by the British government, "arrangements will be made for a 


contribution from the British Treasury by way of a grant or 
loan in aid of the revenues of Trans- Jordan." The British would 
also arrange for the payment of the excess of the cost of the 
British forces stationed in Transjordan "in so far and for such 
time as the resources of Trans- Jordan are insufficient to bear 
such excess." 

In Article 13 the Amir undertook to enact such laws, orders 
and regulations as might be necessary for the implementation 
of Article 10, and not to enact laws, orders and regulations that 
would interfere with the purposes of that Article. 

The Amir agreed, in Articles 14 and 15, to place sections^ of 
the territory under martial law, at the advice of the British 
government, and to transfer the administration of such sections 
to officers of the British government as directed; also, to grant 
British authorities jurisdiction over the members of the armed 
forces maintained and controlled by the British government, 
including all civilians attached to or employed by the armed 

He undertook, in Article 16, to provide every facility, at all 
all times, for the movement of British forces, including the use 
of radio, land-line telegraphic and telephonic services, the right 
to lay land-mines and for the carriage and storage of fuel, ord- 
nance, ammunition and supplies on the roads, railways, water- 
ways and in the ports of Transjordan. 

The Amir promised to be guided by the British government 
in all matters concerning the granting of concessions, exploitation 
of natural resources, construction and operation of railways, 
and raising of loans (Article 17). He undertook not to cede, or 
lease, or in any way place any territory of Transjordan under 
the control of any foreign power (Article 18). The agreement 
was to come into force as soon as it was ratified by the contract- 
ing parties after "its acceptance by the constitutional government 
to be set up under Article 2. The constitutional government shall 
be deemed to be provisional until the Agreement shall have been 
so approved." (Article 20).* 

This outline of the agreement made it quite clear that although 
it was the prelude to independence, the British had written into 
it all the necessary provisions and controls which would make 

8 Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, Agreement Between the United 
Kingdom and Trans-Jordan signed in Jerusalem February 20, 1928, Cmd. 
3069, 1928. 


possible their administration of the area as part of the Palestine 
Mandate, and that their declaration before the Council of the 
League of responsibility for the administration of Transjordan 
as mandate was being safely undertaken. Through Article 20 
they practically compelled Abdullah to establish a constitutional 
government as envisaged in the declaration of independence. 
What was perhaps even more interesting, through this same 
Article they guaranteed for themselves Abdullah's determination 
to have the agreement approved by the first constitutional gov- 

Abdullah's Consent 

The reason Abdullah acquiesced to the agreement, supposedly 
concluded between two "high contracting parties" but which 
actually made the Amir a mere tool for implementing British 
policy in Transjordan, and consented to the establishment of 
a constitutional government which would further limit his 
powers, can only be explained in the fact that he had no alter- 
native. Nor could he resist the British who, in the final analysis, 
were solely responsible for his being the amir of the territory. 
Perhaps he submitted to the demands of the British with the 
hope- that by cooperating with them, he would, at some future 
date, be able to gain new positions. These new positions would 
probably be of a personal nature, concerned with his own ambi- 
tions and desires as well as with the Arab cause, of which he was 
one of the promoters. 

The more extremist political leaders in Transjordan reacted 
very unfavorably to the agreement. Not only did they protest 
the agreement, but they accused Abdullah of entering into an 
unholy compact with the British, bartering away Transjordan's 
political rights in order to secure British support for himself; 
and they accused the British of sacrificing the freedom of the 
Transjordanians to Abdullah in order to strengthen their posi- 
tion in the country for their imperialistic ends. 

Abdullah proceeded to implement the agreement. With its 
signing the chief British representative became the British Resi- 
dent, and Abdullah began to work with his British advisers on 
the Organic Law. This was promulgated on April 16, 1928. The 
Law was divided into seven parts and consisted of seventy-one 


Organic Law 

Part I dealt with the peoples' rights. It proclaimed that "there 
shall be no difference in rights before the law among Trans- 
Jordanians although they may differ in race, religion and lan- 
guage" (Article 5). Personal freedom was granted and no arrest 
was to be made except in accordance with the law. No house 
was to be entered except as prescribed by law. The jurisdiction 
of the courts was to be in accordance with the law. No taxation 
was to be imposed except by law, and taxation was to apply to 
all classes. 

Article 10 stated: "Islam shall be the religion of the State, and 
there shall be insured to all dwellers in Trans-Jordan complete 
freedom of belief and freedom to practice forms of worship in 
accordance with their customs unless detrimental to public safety 
or order or contrary to morals. 1 ' Freedom of expression, assembly 
and association was guaranteed "within the provisions of the 
law/' Right of petition to the Amir and to the Legislative 
Council was also guaranteed. Article 14 guaranteed freedom of 
education to the minorities. Arabic was declared the official 
language of the country. 

Part II established 'the Amirate rights. Article 16 declared 
that "subject to the provisions herein powers of legislation and 
administration are vested in the Amir Abdullah Ibn Husain 
and his heirs after him." The heir-apparent was to be a male 
descendant of the Amir, in accordance with a special law of 
succession. On accession, the Amir was to take an oath before 
the Legislative Council that he would safeguard the constitution 
and be loyal to the country and nation; he was otherwise immune 
from liability and responsibility (Article 18). He was to be the 
head of state and was to sanction and promulgate all laws and 
supervise their execution; he was not to modify or suspend laws 
or give dispensation in their execution except in the manner 
prescribed by law. He was to issue orders for the holding of 
elections for the Legislative Council, convene the Council, and 
open and adjourn it, and prorogue and dissolve it in accordance 
with the provisions of the law. He was to appoint the Chief 
Minister and to dismiss him or accept his resignation; to appoint 
and dismiss all public officials. For the purpose of advising the 


Amir, an Executive Council consisting of the Chief Minister 
and not more than five other members was to be formed. The 
members were to be appointed at the recommendation of the 
Chief Minister and were to be either members of the Legislative 
Council or principal officials of the administration. 

The Executive Council was to conduct the affairs of Trans- 
jordan, and was to meet under the presidency of the Chief 
Minister. The latter was to communicate to the Amir the Coun- 
cil's decisions, and to ascertain his wishes in regard to such 
decisions. It was to decide on the measures to be taken in matters 
which appertained to more than one government department, 
and to investigate all important matters which concerned a 
single department. The Amir was to express his will by Irade. 
An IradS was to be issued on the recommendation of the respon- 
sible head of a department and with the concurrence of the Chief 
Minister, both of whom were to sign the document (Article 24). 

Part III dealt with the Legislature. Legislative powers were 
vested in the Legislative Council with the Amir (Article 25). The 
Council was to consist of elected representatives, and the Chief 
Minister and other members of the Executive Council. Its term 
was to be three years. It was to have three ordinary sessions, one 
each year, beginning on November 1 following the election. It 
was to be called into session by the Amir, and if not so sum- 
moned, it was to assemble of its own accord. The ordinary session 
was to be three months, provided the Council was not dismissed 
by the Amir before that time, or that the session was not pro- 
longed by the Amir to attend to business of an urgent nature 
(Article 29). If the Legislative Council was dismissed, general 
elections were to take place and the new Council was to be 
convened in extraordinary session not later than four months 
after the date of dissolution. Every member was to take an oath 
of loyalty to the Amir and promise to uphold public law in 
the service of the country. The Chief Minister was to preside at 
the Council's meetings. A two-thirds vote was required for a 
quorum, except on adjournment. Vote was to be by majority. 

The Legislative Council was to have the power and authority, 
subject to the Amir's treaty obligations, "to pass such laws as 
may be necessary for the peace and order and good government 
of Trans- Jordan." However, proposals for a law were required 
to be laid before the Council by the Chief Minister or by a 


department head. "The annual budget shall likewise be laid in 
the form of a law before the council" (Article 37). The Amir 
had to give his assent to and sign every law, which was to be 
promulgated in the Official Gazette. He could withhold a law 
for one year; he then had either to approve it or give his reasons 
for rejection and return it to the Council. 

Article 40 provided that "any member of the Council may 
raise in the Council a question on any matter concerning the 
public administration/' In case of extreme necessity, when the 
Council was not in session, the Amir in Council could pass 
ordinances directing the necessary measures to be taken. These 
ordinances must not, however, contravene the provisions of the 
Organic Law, and with the exception of those passed for the 
purpose of securing the fulfillment of the Amir's treaty obliga- 
tions, were to be submitted for approval to the Legislative Coun- 
cil at the beginning of its session. If the Council refused to accept 
them at two successive sessions, they were to become inoperative. 

Part IV dealt with the judicature. Three classes of courts were 
recognized: civil, religious, and special. All judgments were to 
be issued in the name of the Amir. As regards the civil courts, 
Article 48 provided that "effect shall be given by law to any 
agreement concluded by the Amir under the provisions of this 
Organic Law in regard to any judicial proceedings by or against 
foreigners/' The religious courts were divided into Muslim and 
religious community courts. The former were to have jurisdiction 
in all matters of personal status and waqfs*, the latter were to be 
non-Muslim and were to have jurisdiction in matters of personal 
status and waqfs for the benefit of their communities- 
Part VII covered general matters. It declared that the Depart- 
ment of Waqfs was to be considered a government department 
and each year's appropriation was to be sanctioned by an annual 
law which was to include estimates of revenue and expenditure. 
The Amir's civil list was to be a charge on the revenue and was to 
be sanctioned by law. According to Article 67, all rights to any 
public lands were to be vested in and to be excercised by the 
Amir in trust for the Transjordanian government. Mines and 
minerals of every kind and description were to be vested in the 
Amir. The Amir in Council was given the right to grant leases 
of public lands, mines or minerals. 


In time of emergency the Amir could proclaim martial law 
as a temporary measure and could suspend ordinary law during 
the same time (Article 69). 9 

Constitutional Structure 

While the Organic Law limited the Amir's powers in some 
respects, the constitutional government which it aimed to estab- 
lish was very narrow and limited. The Executive Council, which 
could have been composed of non-elected members, was to sit 
in the Legislative Council with the elected members. Moreover, 
the Chief Minister and the Executive Council over which he 
presided were to serve at the pleasure of the Amir, and they were 
responsible to him and to him alone. The Legislative Council 
as such had no initiative power every law to be enacted had to 
be submitted either by the Chief Minister or by a department 
head; it could not introduce any legislation of its own. What 
the members could do on their own initiative was to raise ques- 
tions and debate them; they could take no action. The powers 
of the Amir, on the other hand, were almost unlimited. He 
could appoint and dismiss the Executive Council, dissolve the 
Legislative Council, and his emergency powers gave him prac- 
tically autocratic control. 

Little wonder that the Transjordanians, who had hoped for 
representative government of the Western type, rejected both 
the agreement with Great Britain and the Organic Law. On 
July 25, about three months after the promulgation of the Or- 
ganic Law, an unofficial Transjordan national congress met in 
Amman and adopted a national pact declaring Transjordan a 
sovereign, independent, constitutional Arab state and repudiat- 
ing the British Mandate. In September the government began 
to enroll all eligible voters for the electoral register, but the 
opposition succeeded in persuading the people to boycott the 
registration. In retaliation, the government placed the president 
and secretary of the national congress under house arrest and 
adopted other punitive measures. The opposition utilized the 
old fear of conscription by declaring that the real purpose of 
the registration was not to enable the people to vote, but to 
prepare a military roster. 

9 Luke, The Handbook of Palestine (1930 edition), 470-484. 


The First Legislative Council 

Elections were finally held in February, 1929. The electoral 
system was modeled after the old Ottoman scheme of primary 
and secondary electors. All males except bedouins, eighteen years 
of age or over, were entitled to vote in the primary elections, and 
every person on the register of his district could be elected a 
secondary elector. In accordance with the electoral law, the 
secondary electors selected fourteen members, nine of whom were 
to be Muslim Arabs, three Christian Arabs, and two Circassians. 
To these were added two representatives of the bedouins. To- 
gether with the six members of the Executive Council as ex 
officio members, the Legislative Council consisted of twenty-two 
members. The first session was ceremoniously opened by the 
Amir on April 2; the major order of business was approval of 
the agreement with Great Britain, which was officially submitted 
to it on May 4. The Council, however, displayed no eagerness 
to approve the agreement quickly. After many delays, and under 
pressure, it finally approved it, on June 4, and the formal 
exchange of ratification took place in Amman on October 21. 

The first experience of the Legislative Council was discourag- 
ing. The elected members were suspicious of the official members, 
and the wrangling between the two groups was continuous. A 
crisis was precipitated when the Council refused to pass the 
annual budget law. On February 9, 1931 Abdullah dissolved the 
Legislative Council. 10 On the 21st, Hassan Khalid Pasha Abul 
Huda, who had been Chief Minister since 1926, resigned. The 
new Chief Minister was Abdullah al Sarraj, formerly in the 
service of the Hijaz government, who formed a new Executive 
Council composed of three Muslim Arabs, one Christian Arab, 
and one Circassian. 

10 Abdullah was apparently merely complying with the High Com- 
missioner^ request. In reply to a question to the High Commissioner by 
M. Palacios of the Permanent Mandates Commission why the Legislative 
Council failed to approve the budget, Mr. Moody replied: "The Mandatory 
Power was in control of the finances of the Trans-Jordan Government, 
because it had to make a grant-in-aid to that Government. The High Com- 
missioner was therefore bound to see that the budget was passed. As the 
Legislative Council had refused to pass the budget, the High Commissioner 
had been obliged to take the necessary steps to secure its adoption." League 
of Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the Twenty- 
Second Session, 105. 


Glubb's Desert Area 

Before the Council could settle down to a normal, even 
though limited and less dynamic existence, a major problem had 
to be attacked the relations between the desert and the sown. 
After their disastrous defeat in 1924 at the hands of the Royal 
Air Force, the Wahhabis had never undertaken another large- 
scale organized invasion, but even after the Hadda agreement 
of 1925 incursions across the border from Hijaz-Najd and 
counter-raids continued to plague Transjordan. Relations be- 
tween Abdullah and Ibn Saud worsened. In 1929, however, both 
agreed to refer to the British government for decision all out- 
standing claims and counterclaims resulting from inter-tribal 
raids between their respective countries which had taken place 
since 1925. Despite this agreement, the raiding continued, and 
1930 was a year in which the desert area of Transjordan experi- 
enced raiding that not even the RAF and the Transjordan 
Frontier Force could control. A new approach to the problem 
had to be found; perhaps a system could be worked out based 
on the participation of the bedouins themselves; perhaps they 
could be used as the means for their own protection and to 
stabilize the desert region. 

At that time Major John B. Glubb, who in 1926 had resigned 
his commission in the British army and accepted an appointment 
as an Administrative Inspector with the Iraq government, 
achieved impressive results in pacifying the nomadic tribes along 
the western borders of Iraq. He might be brought to Trans- 
Jordan and try to bring order to the desert area. Glubb was 
approached and acepted the offer. He came to Transjordan with 
the status of second-in-command of the Arab Legion, and com- 
missioned to organize a desert force of bedouins whose primary 
task would be to stop all inter-tribal raiding. Knowing bedouin 
ways and lore, and having worked and lived with bedouin tribes, 
Glubb was well qualified for the job. He immediately began to 
recruit a force of 150 tribesmen, partly organized as cavalry and 
partly as an armored car detachment, which became known as 
the Desert Patrol. 

The purpose in setting up the bedouin force, according to 
Kirkbride, was not to "set a thief to catch a thief," but to get 
the cooperation of the bedouins by convincing them that the 


government was not always an enemy. Glubb himself, who in 
his new task was not only the commander of the force but also 
peace-maker and lawgiver to the frontier tribes, stated the 
objective of the experiment thus: "By the simple device of 
employing the tribesmen themselves to police their own deserts, 
we succeeded in putting an end to raiding in Transjordan, 
almost without firing a shot or making an arrest." u 

Officials in Transjordan, as well as Glubb himself, must have 
been aware that this method of buying protection from the very 
elements which were endangering security was not new in the 
long history of the territory. It was usually resorted to when the 
ruling authorities were unwilling to station their own forces in 
an area. The Romans in their declining days and the Turks 
resorted to this means, and their experiments were not too 

Bedouin Administration 

The question of the bedouins engaged the Transjordan gov- 
ernment almost from its inception, and various methods were 
employed to resolve it. Since the bedouins had their own customs 
and their own crimes and dispensed their own justice, the 
government passed a Tribal Courts Law in 1924. Under this 
enactment mixed courts of officials and tribal shaikhs were set 
up to deal with cases involving bedouin aggression on movable 
property and matters of "blood"; cases between nomadic and 
non-nomadic tribes; cases of "honor" between nomadic tribes 
or their members; cases of horse partnership; and cases of com- 
pensation for blood. This law never operated effectively, and 
five years after its enactment it was superseded by the Bedouin 
Control Law which set up a Bedouin Control Board with 
powers to hear cases that came within the jurisdiction of the 
tribal courts. The Board consisted of the Amir Shakir (a mem- 
ber of the Hashimite family) as presiding officer, the officer 
commanding the Arab Legion, and the bedouin chieftain 
coopted by the two other members. In addition to its other 
powers, it was also granted authority to determine where the 
nomads might camp, and to investigate raids or other breaches 
of the peace in which nomads were involved. These last two 
prerogatives gave the Board control of bedouin movement and 

11 John Bagot Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs (London, 1957), 26. 


Glubb as head of the Desert Patrol did not supersede the 
Board, which sat in Amman, but as commander of the Arab 
Legion unit in the area he became the member of the Board 
for the Legion, and since he was operating on the spot, tribal 
matters came almost exclusively under his jurisdiction. 

The members of the Desert Patrol, although part of the Arab 
Legion, had different uniforms and soon became known as 
"Glubb's Girls.*' They wore a long brown woolen abaya (cloak) 
adorned with braid, and under it a white calico shirt with long 
full sleeves that extended far beyond the sleeves of the abaya. 
On their heads they wore a red and white kaftyah (shawl) held 
in place by an agal (braided cord) on which was the insignia of 
the Legion. They wore black leather sandals, and two bandoliers 
filled with ammunition were slung crosswise over their shoulders. 
Around their waist, under the abaya, they wore a leather belt 
in which a dagger was stuck. The patrol was based on small 
posts in Azraq, Bair and Muda;wara, and their armored can 
were equipped with radios. 12 According to Glubb, the Desert 
Patrol was very effective; after June 1932 there were no more 
bedouin raids. 

Attempts at Sedentarization 

The most ambitious plan of the Transjordan administration 
was the attempt at more rational utilization of parts of the 
territory by some of the nomadic tribes. As the High Com- 
missioner for Palestine reported in 1921, most of these tribes 
worked certain areas during certain seasons of the year. Specific 
tribes claimed vast definite stretches of land as their own, and 

12 The relations between the Arab Legion and the Desert Patrol were 
not of the best. Many of the officers resented the newcomer's status of second- 
in-command, and the rank and file resented the military status of the 
Patrol's members. The then commander of the Legion, Peake, commented: 
"Unfortunately, however, this new desert force was brought into being 
after the regular Arab Legion had completed its task of establishing public 
security in the settled part of the country. Consequently we soon saw the 
British Government providing money with which to subsidize tribes the 
old evil of surra under another name; giving them armored cars with 
machine-guns, wireless sets, forts, and other adjuncts of militarism, which 
had been denied to the old Arab Legion, who had to carry on its task 
without them. This, however, would not have mattered a great deal if the 
Desert Patrol had been kept as police and not trained as an Army unit. 
The temptation, however, was too great, and gradually we saw the desert 
nomads being turned into soldiers with modern arms and transport, while 
the old Arab Legion formed from the dwellers in the towns and villages 
remained for the most part mere police." Jarvis, The Arab Command, 61-62. 


either their own tribesmen plowed the fields during the non- 
roaming season, or, more frequently, settled Transjordanians 
or Arabs from across the Jordan would be engaged on a share- 
cropping basis to work their claims. Conflicting tribal claims 
and counterclaims were causes for the inter-tribal clashes and 
even wars which characterized the last one hundred and fifty 
years of the territory's history prior to the establishment of the 
new British administration. 

With the new land regime introduced by the government, 
and the establishment of ownership of land on an individual 
basis, it was hoped that some of the semi-nomadic tribes, if not 
the fully nomadic ones, could be persuaded to become full-time 
cultivators. Moreover, as a result of the more systematic registra- 
tion, the public domain land was legally delimited, and the 
nomads might be persuaded to give up the land they claimed 
for land which the government would grant them. In 1929 the 
administration expressed the belief that a limited, but definite, 
tendency was noted among the nomads to obtain land and settle 
down as cultivators; this was reported especially among the Beni 
Sakhr tribe who owned great areas south of Amman. To be 
sure, the Beni Sakhr were not cultivating the land themselves, 
but were employing fellahin, but the Administration believed 
that this tendency would increase in proportion to the rapidity 
with which the government allotted definite areas to the nomads, 
and to the efficiency of the measures it took to prevent the tribes 
from raiding and from being raided. When raiding was made 
unprofitable, the nomads would perforce turn to cultivation. 

The distribution of population did not change materially 
since 1924. At that time the Ajlun district was almost entirely 
occupied by settled elements; in the Balqa the settled and semi- 
nomadic population was approximately equal; the Karak district 
was almost wholly semi-nomadic, while Maan had a majority 
of nomads and a semi-nomadic element. 

On the assumption that the tendency of some of the nomadic 
tribes to own land was genuine, the Mandatory followed its 
own prescription. It took measures to prevent raiding by setting 
up the Desert Patrol, and it speeded up the process of allotting 
land to the tribes. The 1931 report to the League of Nations 
stated that all sections of the Beni Hassan tribe had settled on 
newly allotted areas and that over 5,000 title deeds had been 
issued, a specially devised registration system having been 


adopted for the purpose. 13 The outlook was promising, although 
the financial resources necessary for wholesale settlement were 
far beyond the means of Transjordan's treasury. 

In the field of education, the government was also making 
strides. Although lack of funds and the traditional attitude 
toward education prevented a mass effort at literacy, there was 
nevertheless a steady increase in the number of government and 
private schools, teachers and students. The Mandatory reported 
in 1926 that there were 42 elementary schools for boys and six 
for girls; four schools for boys had secondary classes, and one 
school taught crafts. Forty-seven Christian non-government 
schools gave instruction to 2,122 students. The following year, 
133 teachers in government schools were instructing 4,270 
students, while 162 teachers in non-government schools gave 
instruction to 4,572 students. At the end of the decade, in 1931, 
the Mandatory reported that there were 50 schools for boys, 
ten for girls, and one school where carpentry and iron works 
were taught. Twelve boys' schools had secondary classes. The 
enrollment in government schools was 5,511, including 953 girls. 
Ninety-three non-government schools gave instruction to 3,270 
students, of whom 744 were girls. 

By the end of 1931 Transjordan was settling down to a regime 
based on some modus of internal stability, a more or less pacified 
border area, good prospects for normalized relations with its 
eastern and southern neighbors, and some limited attempts at 
constitutional government. Amir Abdullah was still not entirely 
accepted by the people, but was on the way to striking roots. 
But whatever it had of soundness and stability, the regime owed 
to the guidance and protection of Great Britain as the Man- 
datory responsible to the League of Nations for the administra- 
tion of the territory. 

13 Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report .... 1929, Col. No. 47, 138; 
-Report .... 1931, Col. No. 75, 193. 

Chapter X! 

THE PROCESS of constitutional government proceeded; in 
June 1931 elections were held and the second Legislative 
Council came into being. Since the composition of the 
new Council was not much different from that of the previous 
one, the difficulties between the Legislative Council and the 
Executive Council re-emerged. When the Council met on 
November 1, 1933 for its ordinary session, it failed to elect 
members of the Executive Council to the legal, financial and 
administrative committees; subsequently it prevented the trans- 
action of business by failing to form a quorum, and the legis- 
lative process was completely halted. On November 17 the 
Amir dismissed Abdullah Sarraj and the members of his Execu- 
tive Council, and named Ibrahim Pasha Hashim, Chief Min- 
ister. Hashim, who had formerly served as president of the 
Court of Appeals and was later to play many important roles, 
proceeded so tactfully to select the members of his new Executive 
Council as to make it impossible for the Legislative Council 
to paralyze the government; two members were of the first 
Council and the remaining three were members of the Legis- 
lative Council. 

The 1934 Agreement 

In 1934, while the Legislative Council was not in session, the 
Amir issued a decree prohibiting any public meeting unless 
permitted by the Executive Council. This gave the Executive 
Council a strong weapon against the opposition forces in the 
country, as well as those in the Legislative Council. 1 Never- 

1 Replying to a question by a member of the Permanent Mandates Com- 
mission why the Amir had found it necessary to enact such a restriction, 
J. H. Hall, Chief Secretary of the Palestine government, explained that it was 
to prevent repercussions of the troubles in Palestine. League of Nations, Per- 
manent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the Twenty-Fifth Session, 35. 



theless, the criticism against the Amir's government continued, 
and the British were ready to grant him concessions in order 
to strengthen his position at home and give him greater prestige 
in the eyes of his Arab neighbors. They started negotiations for 
modifying some of the provisions of the 1928 agreement, all 
aimed toward improving the Amir's status. The changes agreed 
to and incorporated in a new supplementary agreement em- 
powered the Amir to appoint consular representatives in such 
neighboring Arab states as might be considered necessary; 
relieved Transjordan of having to pay the expenses of the 
British Resident and his staff and of providing quarters for 
the accommodation of the staff; 2 and made it no longer 
necessary for Transjordan to have the consent of the British 
government for any changes in the tariff of custom duties. The 
pertinent article in the modified agreement simply stated that 
except by agreement between Transjordan and Palestine, there 
was to be no customs barriers between the two countries. 3 

Constitutional Development 

Whether these modifications satisfied those elements in Trans- 
jordan who were clamoring for greater freedom from the limita- 
tions imposed by the 1928 agreement is doubtful. Moreover, the 
British control over the Amir was still rigid even in respect to 
the appointment of consular representatives in the neighbor- 
ing Arab countries as the question was subject to further 
negotiations between the Amir and London, and agreement 
on this was not reached until 1939. 4 The British maintained, 

2 This was a mere matter of bookkeeping since the British Resident's ex- 
penses were calculated in the grant-in-aid given by the British Treasury to 
die Transjordan government. 

3 The new agreement was signed in Jerusalem on June 2, 1934 hy the 
High Commissioner for Palestine, General Sir Arthur Wauchope, for Great 
Britain, and by the Chief Minister, Ibrahim Pasha Hashim, for Transjordan. 
Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, Agreement Between His Britannic 
Majesty and His Highness the Amir of Transjordan Supplementary to the 
Agreement Signed on 20th February 1928, Cmd. 4661, 1934. 

4 The same provision, permitting the Amir to name consular representa- 
tives in some of the neighboring Arab countries, was one of the new conces- 
sions granted in 1939, and when asked by the Permanent Mandates Commis- 
sion why it was necessary to grant this again, the Mandatory's representative, 
Alec Kirkbride, explained: "Such appointments had already been provided 
for in the Trans- Jordan agreement, but the explicit consent of His Majesty's 
Government in the United Kingdom had now been given." League of Na- 
tions, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the Thirty-Sixth Session, 


however, that it was an important advance both for Transjordan 
and for the Amir on their way toward self-government. 

The work of the Legislative Council became more normalized, 
and the second Council completed its full legal life on January 
31, 1934. Elections for the third Council were duly held in 
October of that year. Hashim Pasha apparently got along with 
the new Council well enough to stay with it throughout its 
full term. The fourth Council was elected in 1937. In Decem- 
ber of that year the Legislative Council passed a bill amending 
the Organic Law, curtailing the Amir's powers to enact laws 
while the Council was not in session. 

The following September Ibrahim Pasha Hashim suddenly 
submitted his resignation and that of the members of the 
Executive Council The Amir accepted the resignations and 
named Tawfiq Pasha Abul Huda, then director of the Agri- 
cultural Bank, as the new Chief Minister. 5 

Events in the international arena were meanwhile developing 
rapidly, with repercussions in Palestine. Hitler was marching 
on Europe, and the clouds of war became more threatening 
with every passing day. Mussolini had conquered Ethiopia and 
had become a serious threat to the British in the Middle East. 
In Palestine, the efforts of the Royal Commission to bring peace 
between the Arabs and Jews failed. The British used the Pales- 
tine situation to garrison the country heavily with British 
troops, ostensibly to maintain order in the Jewish-Arab struggle. 
Through the Palestine problem the British attempted to rally 
all the Arab leaders in the area to line them up in their camp 

5 No reason for the Hashim resignation was given at the time. Kirkbride 
told the Permanent Mandates Commission, in reply to a question, that "Ibra- 
him Hashim had resigned for reasons of health." League of Nations, Perma- 
nent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the Thirty -Sixth Session, 188. 

Later on Abdullah declared that he had never meant to name Hashim in 
the first place. When the impasse between the Legislative Council and Abdul- 
lah Sarraj developed and the latter was dismissed, Abdullah was asked by the 
British Resident, Col. Sir Henry Cox, who his successor would be: "When I 
mentioned Hassan Khalid Pasha, I was astonished to hear Sir Henry say that 
he could not work with him. The Resident did not, however, object to Ibrahim 
Pasha Hashim who took over the task of government energetically and toiled 
continuously until he grew desperate because of the tiresome foreign restric- 
tions which made his work so difficult." Memoirs of King Abdullah, 224. One 
would deduce from this that although Cox had first thought he could work 
with Hashim, the latter finally had to resign, according to Abdullah, because 
he could not work with Cox. Abdullah stated that he ultimately complained 
to the High Commissioner about the difficulties the Resident created for the 
Transjordan administration. 


for the coming world conflict. The role of Transjordan and its 
Amir in the new drama was highly important, and the time 
had come for a new series of concessions, to raise the prestige 
of Abdullah and his Amirate in the Arab world. 

Abul Huda, as soon as he came to power, began to work 
toward obtaining concessions. Three months after he assumed 
office, the 1939 Palestine Conference was convened in London. 
Arab delegations from all the important Middle Eastern coun- 
triesexcept Syria and Lebanon, which were under French 
mandate attended. The Transjordan delegation consisted of 
the Amir and his Chief Minister. During the sessions, Abul 
Huda and Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald carried on 
negotiations, while Abdullah was present in London. The 
upshot was a number of concessions, all favoring Transjordan: 
1) the Executive Council was to become a Council of Ministers 
or a Cabinet, and each minister was to be in charge of a depart- 
ment and responsible to the Amir; 2) the paragraph in Article 
10 of the 1928 agreement, in which the Amir undertook not 
to raise or maintain in Transjordan, or to allow to be raised 
or maintained, any military forces without the consent of the 
British government, was to be deleted; 3) the close British con- 
trol over details of finance and administration was to be relaxed, 
and a scheme introduced which would obviate the necessity of 
referring minor financial matters to the Colonial Secretary in 
London; 4) the Amir was to appoint consuls in certain neigh- 
boring Arab states provided they confined themselves to consular 
duties; 5) Palestinian-seconded officials were to be replaced, as 
and when possible, by Transjordanians. 6 

On August 1 following, Tawfiq Pasha resigned; he was named 
Premier and was asked to form a cabinet. Abdullah assumed 
the title of commander-in-chief of the military forces. Finally, 
Sir Henry Cox was relieved of his duties, and Alec S. Kirkbride, 
his assistant since 1927, whom Abdullah called an old friend of 
the Arabs and whom he considered one of his best personal 
friends, was named British Resident. 

6 Report of Malcolm MacDonald to the House of Commons, Great Britain, 
PjD.C., 348, cols. 430-431, June 7, 1939; League of Nations, Permanent Man- 
dates Commission, Minutes of the Thirty-Sixth Session, 186. These concessions 
were subsequently reduced to a formal agreement which was signed in Jerusa- 
lem on July 19, 1941. Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, Agreement Be- 
tween His Britannic Majesty and His Highness the Amir of Trans-Jordan 
Supplementary to the Agreement Signed on 20th February 1928, Gmd. 6323, 


Government Personnel 

The question of government personnel in a country as back- 
ward as Transjordan was bound to create difficulties, for 
properly trained staff could not be found among the native 
population, and if brought in from outside, would be greatly 
resented. In spite of this, the British hoped to be able to run 
the Transjordan administration with a minimum of British 
staff; the major part of the government personnel was to come 
from Transjordan or from the neighboring Arab countries. 
The first experience did not prove successful, and iristead of 
increasing British personnel to guarantee a more honest and 
efficient administration, the British introduced very strict con- 
trols. Even small items of financing and administration had to 
be referred to London for decision by the Colonial Secretary. 

The administration was nevertheless expanded and the need 
for additional personnel was met by bringing in people from 
the outside; for these the Amir had to have the approval of 
the British government. In 1935 the British staff engaged by 
the Transjordan government consisted of the judicial and 
financial advisers, the Chief of General Staff and six top officers 
of the Arab Legion, the Director of Customs, Director of Surveys, 
Director of Lands, Inspector of Antiquities, Chief Audit 
Examiner, and Chief Forest Ranger. The British Resident had 
two assistants and a small clerical staff. In 1936 total classified 
and unclassified government personnel, other than British, 
including officers of the Arab Legion, was 683; of these, 422 
were native Arab Trans Jordanians and 43 Circassians, while 215 
were non-native Transjordanians. 

In 1937, while the British staff was only slightly larger, the 
non-British staff numbered 927 and was classified as: 539 
Arabs born in Transjordan, 68 Circassians born in Transjordan, 
and 313 Arabs born outside of Transjordan. The latter com- 
prised 130 Palestinians, 75 Lebanese, 60 Syrians, 17 Turks, 
12 Hijazis, II Tripolitanians, and 8 Egyptians. 7 

The British recognized that the presence of foreign staff was 
one of the factors that was causing friction between the people 
and the government, for in reply to a question asked by the 
Permanent Mandates Commission on July 6, 1929 about the 

7 Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report . . 1935, Col. No. 112, 277; Report 
. . . 1936, Col. No. 129, 316-31 fr t -Report . . . 1938, Col. No. 166, 314-315. 


Transjordanian Nationality Law, Sir John Chancellor, Pales- 
tine High Commissioner said: "One reason, for example, for 
the unpopularity of the Amir's government was that many of 
the high officials were not Trans-Jordanians by birth. The 
population complained that their country was being governed 
by foreigners. The reason, of course, was that very few persons 
of Trans- Jordanian birth were competent to fill important ad- 
ministrative posts especially those requiring some technological 
knowledge/' Yet when Sir John was asked whether this unpop- 
ularity was due to the presence of high British officials, he 
emphatically said no. 8 

Economics and Finances 

The general economic and financial development of the 
country progressed very little The British did not envisage 
any dynamic program to change the economic structure of 
the basically backward territory under colonial rule destined 
to remain native. They were willing, for general empire 
purposes, to contribute annually a substantial sum of money 
in the form of a grant-in-aid. In return for this they felt they 
were entitled to complete financial and administrative control 
of the Amir's regime, to meet security and other basic needs. 
They had no intention of going beyond that. The limited 
revenue that could be collected from the native elements should 
be utilized for health, education, improving agricultural con- 
ditions, etc. Even in its limited existence Transjordan depended 
on British aid during the second decade, as it did in the first, 
as is demonstrated by the figures in Table II. 

The Palestine Royal Commission report of 1937 calculated 
that from 1921 to 1937 Transjordan had received grants-in-aid 
from the British government amounting to 1,253,000, or on 
the average of about 78,000 a year. Grants were also made 
toward the cost of the Transjordan Frontier Force, and loans 
were extended for earthquake relief and the distribution of 

8 League of Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the 
Fourteenth Session, 100. 

9 Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report . . . 1075, Col. No. 112, &S;-Report 
. . 1938, Col. No. 166, 378; Konikoff, Transjordan, etc., 95; Great Britain, 
Parliamentary Papers, Palestine Royal Commission Report, Cmd. 5479, 1937, 



(in Palestine pounds) 


including British 


British Grant- 









































As late as the end of the second decade, Transjordan possessed 
very little industry, and even handicrafts were hardly developed 
commercially. It was and remained an agricultural country, 
and its exports were* exclusively farm products. The major 
exports in order of importance were wheat, sheep, barley, fresh 
fruits, fresh vegetables, and a miscellany of minor products. 
Exports were determined by the harvest, which in turn depended 


TRADE 1936-194110 

(in Palestine pounds) 






















10 Great Brtain, Colonial Office, Report . . . 1938 , Col. No. 166, 388; Koni- 
koff, Transjordan, etc., 110. 


on the precipitation. When a harvest was poor, seeds for the 
planting had to be imported the following year. 

Imports, which were always between two to four times greater 
than exports, were restricted to those absolute necessities which 
a primitive agricultural society could not produce itself. The 
chief imports were cotton piece goods, artificial silk piece goods, 
sugar, rice, benzine, kerosene, coffee, woolen articles, lumber, 
and white cotton shirting. 

The gap between exports and imports was very great except 
during the early years of World War II when there was a great 
demand for Jordan's agricultural products and highly inflated 
prices were paid for them. 

In normal years, and even in abnormal years, the major and 
almost the only importer of Transjordan's exports was Palestine, 
which took an annual average of almost 90 per cent of total 
exports, as the figures in Table IV indicate. 


(in Palestine pounds) 

Year Total Exports Exports to Palestine 










That Palestine was the natural importer of Transjordan's 
goods, even under abnormal conditions, was emphatically stated 
by the Mandatory in the 1938 report: "Trade between Palestine 
and Transjordan was generally satisfactory notwithstanding the 
difficulties arising from the abnormal situation in Palestine." 

The administration's efforts to establish more systematic taxa- 
tion and collection methods were not too rewarding, as far as 
revenue was concerned. In 1933 the new land tax was finally 
approved, and an income tax law was enacted. In 1936 the 
customs duties schedule was completely revised; some 300 items 
were placed on an ad valorem basis, 171 were given specific 
rates, while a long list of articles was put on a free basis. The 
following year a Development Department, headed by a British 
director, was established, financed from a grant from the 


Colonial Development Fund. Its functions were quite modest 
and limited. It was to make a hydrographic survey, work on 
an irrigation control system, and prepare irrigation legislation. 
In other words, in spite of its very imposing name, all the 
Department was to do was to help guide the government in 
its agricultural development policies, which would, of course, 
have to be based on the country's water resources, and to advise 
on water control. 

Abdullah's Development Attempts 

It is against this background of limited economic development 
possibilities that we must view Abdullah's attempts, and the 
attempts of some of the landowning shaikhs, to interest the Jews 
from across the Jordan in helping in the agricultural exploita- 
tion of their lands. In 1931 the Legislative Council passed a law 
granting the Amir some 67,000 dunams of land, of which 62,000 
were underdeveloped and unoccupied tracts in the Jordan valley 
which had formerly belonged to the Turkish Sultan. The grant 
was in the form of a private waqf, which meant that he could 
not sell it, but could lease it. Abdullah was anxious to have 
the land developed, but he did not possess the means with 
which to bring it under cultivation. He tried to interest various 
Italian, French and Egyptian companies in leasing the tracts, 
but none displayed any wish to invest the necessary capital. He 
then began to negotiate with representatives of the Jewish 
Agency in Jerusalem, first through intermediaries and then 
directly. The negotiations culminated in the signing of an 
option agreement. The New York Times of July 18, 1933 
reported that the agreement called for a lease of thirty-three 
years, renewable for two similar periods. The annual payment 
was to be 2,200 Palestine pounds, plus five per cent of any 
profits from cultivation. The option was for a period of six- 
twelve months, during which the Amir was to receive LP500 

The negotiations were kept secret from the general public, 
and Abdullah, it would seem, even managed to keep them 
a secret from the British. At least he did not consult with them. 
When the terms of the option agreement were prematurely made 
public through the local press in Palestine, a campaign against 
the project was started, not only by the Palestine Arab press, 


but the British authorities were also determined to have the 
agreement annulled. Abdullah was reported to have explained 
his move to the British as an effort to bring Jewish enterprise 
and capital into Transjordan to help him develop his Amirate 
along the same dynamic and prosperous lines as on the other 
side of the Jordan. The British, in private conversation as well 
as in official statements, argued that while basically they had no 
objection in principle to Abdullah's inviting Jewish enterprise 
to help in the economic development of Jordan, they felt that 
the time was not propitious for such ventures; that it was 
politically unwise to invite Jews to settle in the territory. Nor 
could they guarantee the safety of new settlers in the midst 
of a hostile population. 

The pressure on Abdullah from the Palestinian Arabs (the 
Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al Husaini, went to Amman and 
personally pressured the Amir) and from the British authorities 
achieved its end, and Abdullah authorized the Arab press to 
say that he had cancelled the agreement, and that he had never 
intended to lease his land to foreigners. In fact, however, he did 
not cancel the option and continued to collect the option money 
for a number of years. The Jews continued to pay the option 
money, but they did not proceed with the execution of the 

In spite of the furor over Abdullah's willingness to lease land 
to the Jews, there were many shaikhs in Transjordan who hoped 
to do likewise, and they were much annoyed at the interference 
of the British authorities. They subsequently met with Jewish 
leaders in Jerusalem and offered plans for leasing some of their 
lands. To prevent such an eventuality, the British pressed the 
Transjordan Legislative Council to enact a law prohibiting the 
sale of land to foreigners. Early in 1933 the Council rejected the 
draft law 13-3. The Permanent Mandates Commission pointed 
out to the British government that the mandate did not prevent 
either the Amir or the shaikhs from voluntarily permitting their 
land to be colonized. The Legislative Council had expressed 
its antagonism to the proposed prohibition; it had refusal even 
to listen to the government representative who proposed that 
discussion of the bill be adjourned until the next session. The 
majority of the Council had insisted on an immediate vote to 
show their desire for an "open door" policy for the Jews. 
The Permanent Mandates Commission deduced from the 


Council's action that they wanted to lease their land to the Jews, 
while the British had tried to force the Transjordanians to 
enact legislation that would prohibit them from doing the very 
thing they wanted to do, and which the Mandate did not prohibit 
them from doing. The British argued that while it was true 
that there was nothing in the Mandate which prohibited Jewish 
colonization in Transjordan, all things considered, they had 
concluded, on the ground of local policy and the general 
question of security, that it was not practicable to facilitate 
such colonization. 11 Subsequently, through the Nationality Law 
which the British succeeded in enacting, the objective of pre- 
venting Jews from leasing land in Transjordan was achieved. 

Mandatory Status 

The handicap of a mandated territory when it came to 
economic exploitation was illustrated by the privileges granted 
to the Iraq Petroleum Company to build its oil pipeline from 
Iraq to Haifa across Transjordan. The Company was freed 
from paying any royalties for the oil that passed through more 
than two hundred miles of Transjordan territory; it was also 
freed from all taxes and levies, and from all customs duties on 
imports of materials it needed to build and operate the pipe- 
line. On January 11, 1931, Transjordan signed an agreement 
with the Iraq Petroleum Company granting it a seventy-year 
concession. It took about four years to complete the line and 
the only benefit that accrued to Transjordan was the employ- 
ment of a number of natives in the construction of the line, 
including fifty extra Legionaries on special duty along the line, 
whose pay was defrayed by the Company. Dr. Drummond Shiels, 
the British Parliamentary Undersecretary for the Colonies, 
valiantly attempted to defend the British government's action 
in granting the concession against the accusation of the Per- 
manent Mandates Commission that the Mandatory had favored 
the Company against the people of Transjordan. The Com- 
mission refused to accept the sophisticated legalisms that the 
Company was not purely British and hence there had been 
no discrimination in favor of British nationals. Dr. Shiels 
replied that there simply was a difference of opinion between 

n Leaqrue of Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the 
Twenty-Third Session, 98. 


If 3 











the British government and the members of the Commission 
and therefore it "was hardly profitable to pursue the discussion" 
any further. 12 

Land Regime 

It was during the second decade that two aspects of the 
government's land policy were fully developed: land settle- 
ment, 13 and settling nomads on the land as cultivators. By 1933 
the fiscal survey was completed. All agricultural land had been 
surveyed, the lands of each village were divided into blocks 
according to fertility, and assessed for tax purposes. The new 
land tax was enacted, and after the land settlement law was 
promulgated, the establishment of rights of ownership began. 
The old mushaa system of parcelation based on communal 
ownership was liquidated. To some extent the establishment 
of permanent individual ownership of land was a social revolu- 
tion, for it broke up the tribal-feudal system which had 
dominated the territory for a long time. 

The size of land holdings is always a helpful indicator of the 
basic social and economic pattern of an agricultural country. 
After the process of land settlement had operated a number 
of years, the government undertook a survey, in 1937, to get 
a general picture of land ownership. The following picture 
emerged from a compilation of the registers of properties (Table 


The size of the average holding was about 55 dunams, valued 
at LP80. The average family holding was about 110 dunams, 
as families normally had two members as individual owners. 
After the establishment of government ownership of the state 
domain, most of it was turned over to tenants on very reason- 
able terms, to be developed by them as individual owners. 

The objective of the land settlement law appeared on the 
way to realization; it was expected that this radical change in 
individual permanent ownership of land would change the 

12 League of Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the 
Twentieth Session, 98. 

13 The definition of the term "land settlement" by the man who was in- 
volved in its administration should clarify any misunderstanding: "Land set- 
tlement means the settlement not of people but of ownership," Marcus Mac- 
kenzie, "Transjordan," Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, XXXIII, 
265, July, 1946. 7 




Value of Holdings Number of Holders Per Cent 

Above LP250 



Between LP250 and LP200 



Between LP200 and LP100 



Between LP100 and LP 50 



Under LP 50 



social structure and would result in a general increase of and 
improvement in agricultural output. 

Policy on Nomads 

As to the general possibility of extending agricultural cultiva- 
tion of land, the government adopted a conservative definition 
of cultivableness in terms of the habits and practices of the 
cultivators and in terms of the limited available financial means. 
The total area thought to be suitable for cultivation and 
therefore to be covered by the fiscal survey was about 10,000 
kilometers, or one-ninth of the total area. In 1932 the British 
estimated that the total cultivated area was 4,000,000 dunams. 
If the figure of 110 dunams per family holding, as suggested 
by the Mandatory, were to be used, the country could not 
support a population of more than 180,000, hence the im- 
portance of irrigation not only to increase the area to be 
cultivated, but also to reduce substantially the size of the 
holding needed for the maintenance of a family. The amount 
of water available for artificial irrigation subsequently became 
a major controversial issue in the discussions and negotiations 
about Transjordan. 

The other aspect of the government's land policy was to 
sedentarize the nomads. Earlier, the Mandatory believed that 
it had discovered a definite tendency toward settling on the 
land; the experiment with the Beni Hassan convinced the 
government that converting the nomad into settler was its 
great modern mission, and it hoped that eventually all the semi- 
nomads and even the nomads would become cultivators. In 
1933 the Bedouin Control Board charged Major Glubb, as the 


officer of the Arab Legion commanding the Desert Patrol, to 
determine where the nomads could camp, and to investigate 
raids or other breaches of the peace in which nomads were 
involved. This gave Glubb extraordinary authority and control 
over the bedouins. Moreover, in 1934 the Amir Shakir, president 
of the Bedouin Control Board, died, and he was not replaced. 
Instead, in 1936 new tribal laws were enacted; the most sig- 
nificant of them was the Bedouin Control Law. The 1938 report 
of the Mandatory to the Permanent Mandates Commission 
stated: "The Bedouin Control Law allows the officer of the Arab 
Legion in charge of the Desert Area to ^control the movements 
of the nomads and to deal summarily with cases of raiding, 
whether they occur in Trans- Jordan or elsewhere, and to arrest 
and impound the movable property of nomads suspected of 
preparing for a raid." 14 

Raiding had, for all intents and purposes, stopped in 1932, 
according to Glubb's testimony, and in 1933 the Mandatory 
reported that it had ceased because it was no longer remunerative 
or a necessary means of livelihood, and that this was in large 
measure due to the achievements of Major Glubb. One of the 
conditions for promoting nomadic settlement had therefore 
been attained. The government, moreover, was willing to grant 
some of the bedouins permanent land ownership. Yet the nomads 
refused to become cultivators. Even the most enthusiastic of- 
ficials in the administration soon realized that the economic 
and financial resources of the country made the conversion of 
the nomads into full cultivators impossible. The government 
did not have the resources with which to pursue this con- 
version, and the nomads did not have the means to support 
themselves without the income from their nomadic activities. 

The policy shifted from full cultivation to partial support 
from cultivation, in other words, a pattern of complementary 
existence. Glubb ascribed this change of policy to the difficulty 
of changing the bedouin into a cultivator, to the shortage of 
land, and to the vagaries of the weather. The Mandatory 
reported in 1938 that the ultimate purpose of the Transjordan 
government was not to transform the bedouin into fully settled 
cultivators, for as long as the breeding of livestock remained 
a necessary and useful occupation, nomadism would continue 
to be essential to its profitable pursuit in Transjordan. More- 

H Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report . . . 1938, Col. No. 166, 818. 








over, since the bedouins were experts in livestock breeding, they 
formed a class which made a valuable contribution to the 
economic life of the country. The new policy was put thus: 
"The objects of the encouragement of Bedouin cultivation are 
briefly (a) to broaden the basis of their economy and to prevent 
the whole of their livelihood from depending upon one some- 
what fickle form of capital, and (b) to give them a fixed stake 
in immovable property in the country, which will be not only 
an economic insurance but also a social anchorage." The Man- 
datory expressed great satisfaction with the fact that by the 
end of 1938 not only every tribe but every section of every 
tribe had been put into possession of a certain amount of 
cultivation. Glubb stated that by 1939 there was scarcely a 
bedouin family that did not own its patch of grain in addition 
to its flocks. 15 

Relations with Neighbors 

The acceptance by both Transjordan and Ibn Saud of the 
decision of the British Government that claims and counter- 
claims arising from inter-tribal raiding up to 1930 should be 
mutually abandoned, paved the way for the establishment of 
better relations between the two. On April 1, 1933 Saudi Arabia 
(the new name of the Najd-Hijaz territories) and Transjordan 
recognized each other, and negotiations were immediately begun 
in Jidda for a treaty of friendship and ban voisinage which was 
concluded in Jerusalem on July 27 of that year. The next month 
both countries agreed to cancel all claims for damages resulting 
from raids during the period August 1, 1930- July 27, 1933. 

Two years later Amir Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, 
visited Transjordan, and the British interpreted the visit as 
a step in the development of friendly relations. They apparently 
believed that the dynastic animosities and the rivalry between 
the Hashimis and the Saudis were abating. 

Relations between Iraq and Transjordan were generally 
good, but the definition of boundaries actual demarcation in 
the middle of the desert would have been completely useless 
was not determined until the signing of a treaty of friendship 
between the two Hashimi territories in Amman on March 26, 

IS Great Britain, Colonial Office, Report . . . 1938, Col. No. 166, 319; John 
Bagot Glub.b, The Story of the Arab Legion (London, 1948), 170. 


193L In July of the following year the outline of the 
common frontier was formalized in an exchange of notes 
between the Chief Minister of Transjordan and the Premier 
of Iraq. The boundary between Syria and Transjordan, which 
was established by an agreement between Great Britain and 
France in 1923, was finally demarcated in June-July, 1932. 16 

By the end of the second decade Transjordan's frontiers, with 
the exception of that in the southeast with Saudi Arabia, and 
this at least de facto, were either demarcated or clearly defined, 
and Transjordan had attained normal, if not altogether friendly, 
relations with all its neighbors. 

General Development 

Although the population, according to official estimates, 
remained practically stationary (in 1938 the figure was given 
as 300,000), steady though slow progress was made in the fields 
of education, health and transportation. In 1933/34 there were 
66 government schools with 150 teachers giving instruction to 
5,560 students, and 132 non-government schools with 201 
teachers and 5,222 students, a total of 10,782 students. Five 
years later, in the school year 1938/39, there were 74 govern- 
ment schools maintained by 181 teachers giving instruction to 
8,512 students, and 117 non-government schools with 219 
teachers instructing 5,342 students, making a total of 13,854 
students. In the school year at the end of the second decade, 
1941/42, there were 73 government schools maintained by 184 
teachers, giving instruction to 10,364 students, and 92 non- 
government schools maintained by 175 teachers giving instruc- 
tion to 4,847 students, making a total of 15,211 students. The 
increase in student attendance during the second decade was 
about 73 per cent, which under the circumstances must be con- 
sidered a real achievement. The increase in the percentage of 
girls attending school was far less spectacular, because in this 
no doubt deep social patterns were involved. While in 1931 the 
percentage of girls in total attendance was only 19 per cent, in 
1941 it was about 25. 

16 The text of the treaty with Iraq is in Great Britain, Colonial Office, 
Report . . . 1931, Col. No. 75, 210 ff .; text of the treaty with Saudi Arabia is 
in Report . . . 1934, Col. No. 104, 300-517; League of Nations, Permanent 
Mandates Commission, Minutes of the Twenty-Third Session, 117; Kirkbride, 
A Crackle of Thorns, 82-91. 


Most of the health services were supplied by the government's 
health department and voluntary hospitals. In 1933 the govern- 
ment maintained the 22-bed Amman hospital; 8-bed epidemic 
and detention posts at Karak, Maan, Amman and Irbid; 4-bed 
posts at Jarash, Tafilah and Aqaba; and a 6-bed detention post 
at the central prison in Amman. The number of admissions 
to hospitals and posts during that year was 508. The number 
treated at government clinics and dispensaries was 133,160. 
Admissions to the voluntary hospitals (practically all missionary) 
were 1,095, and attendance at voluntary clinics was 21,143. The 
dependence on the government's public health institutions is 
reflected in the number of private practitioners during that 
year. Licenses to practice throughout the entire country were 
issued to seven doctors, one dentist, one pharmacist, and two 

Five years later a 12-bed government hospital at Irbid and 
a 40-bed mobile medical unit were added, and the number of 
beds in the existing epidemic and detention posts were increased. 
Admissions in government hospitals in 1938 totaled 947, almost 
double that of 1933, and the number treated in government 
clinics totaled 256,708, again almost double that of 1933. 
Admissions to the voluntary hospitals were 1,828, somewhat 
less than double the number in 1933; 43,026 were treated at 
voluntary clinics, a little more than twice the number treated 
in 1933. As these figures indicate, the government had greater 
clinic facilities, while the voluntary institutions had greater 
hospital facilities. 

By 1938 private practice had also made strides, but the 
distribution was concentrated mostly in Amman. Of the twenty- 
four physicians in the country, ten were in Amman; of the 
six dentists and five pharmacists, four of each category were in 
Amman; and of the nine midwives, three were in Amman. 

Transportation facilities had expanded. The total number 
of registered vehicles in the entire country in 1926 was 135: 
110 cars, 4* buses, 16 trucks, and 5 motorcycles. In 1934 the 
total had increased to 464: 269 cars, 19 buses, 169 trucks, and 
7 motorcycles; and by 1938 the total had reached 800: 335 cars, 
24 buses, 230 trucks, 18 motorcycles, and 193 bicydes. 

Chapter XII 

THE ARAB LEGION 1927-1948 
Up to 1939 

Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force, nothing 
eventful happened in Transjordan. Not even the 1929 
Palestine disturbances growing out of the Wailing Wall incident 
necessitated any increased measures on the part of the Legion. 
On November 4, 1929 the officer commanding the Arab Legion 
informed the British authorities in Jerusalem that a deputa- 
tion of Arab shaikhs had visited the Amir and discussed with 
him whether they should cross the river and take part in the 
developments there; Abdullah had dissuaded them and nothing 

With the organization of the Desert Patrol under the com- 
mand of Major John Bagot Glubb, the Legion was increased 
by some 150 men. These were all bedouins except the car drivers 
and radio operators; they were trained, equipped and armed 
more as an army unit than as a police force. In 1933 the 
desert district was divided into sub-areas, the northern area 
with headquarters at Azraq, the southern area with headquarters 
at Mudawara. 

The total strength of the Arab Legion in 1934 consisted of 
forty officers, three cadet officers, and 1,002 non-commissioned 
officers and men. In addition to its regular police duties and 
custody of prisoners, the Legion was also put in charge of 
immigration and passport control, and the licensing of all pri- 
vate and public vehicles. 

In 1935, after the completion of the Iraq Petroleum Company 
pipeline, fifty men were added to the Legion force at the expense 
of the Company, and were especially assigned to guard duty 
along the pipeline; some thirty additional Legionaries were 



hired for similar duty at the RAF installations. The following 
year trouble broke out in Palestine and the Transjordan authori- 
ties felt that the security forces must be strengthened (although 
the Mandatory had reported as late as 1938 that the conduct 
of the people of Transjordan was little affected by events across 
the river) and the Legion was authorized on June 4, 1936 to 
form a reserve of 150 men to be immediately embodied in the 
Legion. On September 12 the enlistment of 200 supplementary 
police was authorized; by the end of the year this unit was dis- 
banded and the reserve left the cadre of the Legion. The repre- 
sentative of the Mandatory explained to the Permanent Man- 
dates Commission that with the termination of the Arab strike 
in Palestine at the end of 1936 the excitement in Transjordan 
had died down and the services of the Arab Legion reserve were 
no longer required. It had nevertheless been decided to pay 
the reservists a retaining fee of a pound a month while they 
went about their normal occupations; for this they were obliged 
to serve when required, and they were to be called up annually 
for one month's training, for which they were to be paid five 

It is interesting that of the 115 reservists of 1937, 60 were 
with the desert police. It would thus appear that the added 
force was needed not so much to maintain order inside Trans- 
Jordan along the boundary with Palestine as to guard the desert 
area bordering Iraq and Saudi Arabia. During the same year 
it was decided to add 50 mounted men to the regular force of 
the Legion, and 50 dismounted men to the reserve. 

Though according to the Mandatory the Amir's wise rule 
and his government's determination had suppressed every in- 
cipient disorder and had maintained tranquility in the country, 1 
twelve incursions of armed bands into Transjordan from Pales- 

I In reply to a question by the chairman of the Permanent Mandates Com- 
mission as to the impact of the Palestine disturbances on Transjordan, Alec 
Kirkbride, representing the Mandatory, said: "The Arab rebels in Palestine 
have throughout endeavoured to extend the rebellion to Trans- Jordan. They 
had failed because the Amir of Trans-Jordan had wisely made every effort to 
dissuade the population of his country from taking any part in the move- 
ment. The Amir's attitude had led the rebel chiefs to conclude that their 
best course would be to shake the authority of the Amir and his Government. 
The incursions of armed bands were the result. It would be noticed that the 
objectives were nearly always rural police posts that was to say, the visible 
symbols of the Amir's authority in the most remote parts of his country." 
League ot Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the Thirty- 
Sixth Session, 94. 


tine nevertheless took place during 1938 and in some instances 
there were casualties; several attacks were made on the Iraq 
Petroleum Company's pipeline. This immediately brought about 
a substantial increase in all categories of the Legion. Of a total 
of 1,642 men including 44 officers, five of whom were British 
and three cadets, 1,130 were regulars, 160 reservists, and 334 
supplementary police. 

Glubb's Ascendance 

The war shadows were lengthening, and it became obvious 
that the Legion, especially the non-strictly police element, would 
have to be utilized to a much larger extent than heretofore, 
although the nature of the services that would be required was 
not clear. To make it possible for the Amir to raise a greater 
number of recruits in case of need always depending on British 
financing the 1928 Agreement had to be modified to remove 
the restrictions on Abdullah on raising any military forces with- 
out British consent. Moreover, right after the conclusion of 
the Palestine conference in London, where a new understanding 
had been worked out with Abdullah, Peake resigned as com- 
mander of the Legion and was succeeded on March 21, 1939 
by Major Glubb. This was an indication of the new emphasis 
on the army aspect of the Legion and the expected area of 
activity; philosophically it was a reversal of Peake's basic 
approach to the Legion as a sedentary force. Immediately the 
bedouins of the Desert Patrol were motorized and the detach- 
ment was given the name of Desert Mechanized Force. By the 
middle of 1939 the supplementary police had been raised to 
600 strong. 

At War with Germany 

On September 16, 1939, right after the outbreak of World 
War II, Abdullah declared Transjordan at war with Germany, 
but it was not dear what function, if any, the Arab Legion 
would be called upon to perform, since the war was restricted 
to Europe and the British expressed their conviction to Abdul- 
lah that it would not extend into the Middle East. But in the 
spring of 1940 when France fell and Italy entered the war, it 
was evident that the Middle East would become a theater of 


operations. Moreover, Axis propaganda on behalf of Arab unity 
prompted the British to work actively toward some plan for 
uniting the Arabs and strengthening the Allied position in the 
Arab world. Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and Sir Archibald 
Wavell, the commander of British forces in the area, visited the 
Middle East and discussed the question of unity with Arab 
leaders. They also visited Amman where they conferred with 
the Amir in the British Residency. It was decided that the 
Desert Mechanized Force was to be doubled immediately; the 
British army was to supply weapons and equipment. It is very 
doubtful that even at that time the Arab Legion was thought 
of as a combatant force. After hostilities broke out in the 
Western Desert and the Amir offered a contingent from the 
Arab Legion, he was thanked for his noble offer and was asked 
to send instead a company of infantry to guard the Aqir airfield 
in Palestine. The company was of course sent. This was the 
Legion's first entry into Palestine, but it was definitely for guard 
duty only. 

World War II Efforts 

The disaster of Dunkirk and Italy's entry into the war seri- 
ously lowered British prestige among the Arabs of the Middle 
East, including *Transjordan, and general pessimism prevailed 
as to the outcome of the struggle. Although at a celebration 
of Arab Revolt Day in September 1940 Abdullah made a declarar 
tion of final victory for the Allies, he was hardly believed. The 
general atmosphere changed to almost open hostility after 
Rashid al Gailani and his "Golden Square" generals staged a 
coup d'etat in Iraq. The Iraqi Regent, Amir Abdul Illah, fled 
the country in a British warship, the British garrisons outside 
Basrah and Bagdad were besieged, and British civilians were 
arrested. This, according to Kirkbride, who was British Resident 
in Amman, convinced many Transjordanians including a num- 
ber of Arab Legion officers that it was high time to get in 
touch with the new conquerors to make terms. The only way 
to stem the tide was for the British to use force in restoring 
Iraq, hence the British decision against military opposition to 
send out a column from Palestine to retake Bagdad and restore 
the Regent, who meanwhile had arrived in Amman with Premier 
Nuri as Said. A column was sent out to relieve Habbaniya 
















where tie British military forces were besieged (it was dubbed 
Habforce), and a flying column that went ahead was called 
Kingcol after the commander, Brig. Kingston. The Desert 
Mechanized Force of the Arab Legion, under Glubb, was 
assigned to accompany the column and take Rutbah, a stone 
fort built around a well in the desert, inside Iraq on the road 
to Bagdad. Rutbah was normally garrisoned by about 100 officers 
and men of the Iraqi police. Glubb set out with his Mechanized 
Force to take the fort, but the military achievement was not 
spectacular. Rutbah was taken by RAF armored cars on May 11, 
but the Iraqis had evacuated the previous night. Two days 
later the column left Rutbah and the commander sent the Arab 
Legion men ahead. As to the reason for this, Glubb said: "I was 
unable to decide whether this part was offered to us in order 
to enable us to guide the column and act as advance guard or 
whether to get us as far as possible from his column." The Arab 
Legion men had had no previous battle experience and the 
British commander was apparently not taking any chances and 
was keeping them at a considerable distance from his main 

The original understanding was that the Legion was to assist 
the British in crossing the desert, but on reaching Iraq it was 
to be independent of the British army and to incite the Iraqis 
to revolt against the Gailani regime. Although unbaptized by 
battle fire, some of the Legionaries distinguished themselves in 
the recapture of Bagdad. Although the British commander of 
the column was not enthusiastic about "Glubb's Girls," the 
heroic deeds of individual members of the Legion were described 
by Glubb as magnificent. It would seem, however, that the 
Legion as such was not yet a combat organization with enough 
experience under fire,. 

While the column was making its way to Bagdad, the situation 
in Transjordan grew tenser as casualties from the column began 
to arrive in Amman and it became known that the column's 
progress had been checked at the Euphrates. Kirkbride described 
the situation as very dangerous. It was saved when news arrived 
on May 29 that Bagdad had been taken and that al Gailani 
had fled.2 

2 Glubb, Story of the Arab Legion, 267-279; Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, 
1 30-154. The detailed story of the entire campaign is given by Somerset S. 
De Chair, The Golden Carpet (London, 1944). The Arab Legion's achieve- 
ments should be viewed against the general situation in Transjordan at the 
time. Some Arab leaders were urging the Legionaries to desert; one squadron 


That year the Arab Legion was to see its only other battle 
engagement of the war. After the Vichy French took over Syria 
and Lebanon and practically surrendered the territories to the 
Germans, the Allies decided to re-take the Levant states. British 
and Arab Legion units assembled at Mafraq; the Legionaries 
were to lead the British column across the desert to Palmyra, 
where they were then to disengage before becoming too heavily 
involved. The British were to attack Palmyra and from there 
advance to Horns, and the Legionaries were to cover the rear 
of the British column. While so engaged, south of Palmyra 
following a number of unsuccessful efforts against enemy posi- 
tions, a Legion detachment encountered a French unit of 
thirty-two men which it captured after a brief skirmish. The 
assistance given by the Arab Legion to the campaign around 
Palmyra brought forth the following dispatch: 

"To: His Highness, Amir Abdullah Amman 

"From: General Wilson 

"Date: 2/7/41 

"The Trans-Jordan Desert Patrol, under Glubb Pasha, carried 
out yesterday at Sukhna, a most successful operation, capturing 
80 prisoners, 8 armored cars, and 12 machine guns. I offer respect- 
ful congratulations on spirited action and fighting qualities of 
your troops." 

Glubb reported that the little campaigns in Iraq and Palmyra 
had invested the Arab Legion with a halo of glory, and that 
the Legion's exploits had taken the British army by surprise, 
for none of the British commanders had considered the Legion 
a fighting force. This prestige, Glubb significantly declared, 
added greatly to the Legion's power to keep the peace. In spite 
of its reportedly magnificent heroic achievements, the British 
never again during the course of the war called on the Arab 
Legion for combat duty. For all intents and purposes the Legion 
remained a police force and, as its commander had emphasized, 
a power to keep the peace, and it was not until the middle 
of 1948 that it faced actual combat. 

Unsuccessful Efforts 

That Abdullah as well as Glubb was eager to see the Legion 

of the Transjordan Frontier Force mutinied when it was ordered to advance 
into Iraq. George Kirk, Survey of International Affairs 1939-1946. The Middle 
East in the War (London, 1953), 74 n.; see all references. 


participate in combat goes without saying; as a matter of fact, 
Glubb made very strenuous efforts to that end. According to 
the chief of staff of the Legion, after the Desert Mechanized 
Force's sortie, a British Brigadier visited him in Amman and 
asked about the possibilities of increasing the Legion's strength. 
The Transjordan government was approached, and the Amir 
eagerly welcomed the proposed expansion; the first regiment 
was brought up to full strength, and a second regiment was 
raised. Soon afterwards a third regiment and a brigade head- 
quarters were added. The Amir was so delighted that he was 
ready to raise six regiments, and the troops, according to Glubb, 
were Burning for new enemies and fresh enterprises. Also 
according to Glubb, the Arab Legion was the best force in 
the world to control the Syrian desert from Turkey to the Red 
Sea, but was debarred from doing so because of the political 
jealousy of the Free French. 

In the autumn of 1942 when Rommel broke through North 
Africa and advanced to al Alamain, Glubb went to Cairo, while 
part of the Arab Legion was moved to Sinai in preparation for 
a possible battle. It was soon agreed that advance units of the 
Legion should be sent to the Western Desert, but before the 
fighting qualities of the Legion could be tested, the battle of 
al Alamain forced Rommel to flee. Perhaps the units could be 
engaged in pursuit of the enemy? Glubb flew to Cairo. "An 
anxious wait followed. Then a telegram from Eighth Army 
Headquarters. More troops were not wanted." Dejected, he 
returned to Amman. 

For a while it looked as if the Legion might serve in Persia 
against insurgent tribes that were interfering with Allied traffic. 
Glubb himself took command of the first regiment and en- 
camped at Khanaqin, almost within sight of the Persian border, 
ready for action, but at the last minute the order was cancelled; 
the regiment returned to Transjordan. Its hopes soared again 
when the Allies, under Gen. Scobie, were preparing a military 
force for a campaign in Greece. The Legion was ordered to 
concentrate in Palestine <f or possible movement. It was inspected 
by the General himself and then was given heavy equipment. 
This was taken as a clear indication that it was to see combat 
action. There was a strong feeling that this time the Legion 
would be sent overseas. But again disappointment: it was con- 
sidered undesirable to have Arab troops on Greek soil. Glubb 


finally realized that combat possibilities for the Legion had run 
out. "This time I knew that it was finished. Four years of strenu- 
ous training and buoyant hopes seemed to have been wasted. 
The Arab Legion would never fight on a main front in Europe." 

The participation of the Legion in the second World War 
was limited to guard duty as a result, it would seem, of British 
evaluation of the Legion's fighting qualities rather than by the 
cruelties of fate, as Glubb believed. As a last resort, the military 
authorities were sometimes willing to use the Legion for com- 
bat purposes, but as better alternatives were found it was 
restricted to guard duty. The first request for this service was 
for a company of infantry to guard the airfield in Palestine. 
Throughout the war Transjordan sent companies of her Legion 
to guard camps and stores, airfields, ports, railways and bridges 
in the Middle East, thus, according to estimates, releasing a 
British division for combat duty in Europe. 3 

During the last year of the war, the strength of the military 
units of the Arab Legion, which consisted of the Mechanized 
Brigade and sixteen garrison companies scattered over Syria, 
Iraq, Palestine and Transjordan, rose to 8,000. The original 
body the civil police sectionconsisted of 2,000 men. Thus the 
military section, which in 1939 did not exceed 350 men, had 
increased some twenty-three times, while the police section which 
had numbered about 1,000, had nearly doubled. 

The exigencies of war brought about a basic change in the 
method of staffing the Legion, which no doubt had a far-reaching 
effect on the Legion's character. From 1926 until about 1940 
all the posts except the top ones, which were held by Britishers, 
were staffed with former officers of the Turkish army. The few 
new officers raised by the Legion were trained exclusively in 
police duties. In 1940 a new system of training Trans Jordanians 
for officers' duty was inaugurated, and a number of relatively 
young officers joined the ranks of the Legion. 

Financing the Legion 

From the British point of view, in terms of their responsibil- 
ities as Mandatory and of their imperial interests, the Arab 
Legion was the most important aspect of the Transjordan 

3 Glubb, Story of the Arab Legion, SI 1-359; Edgar O'Ballance, The Arab- 
Israeli War 1948 (New York, 1957), 26. 


participate in combat goes without saying; as a matter of fact, 
Glubb made very strenuous efforts to that end. According to 
the chief of staff of the Legion, after the Desert Mechanized 
Force's sortie, a British Brigadier visited him in Amman and 
asked about the possibilities of increasing the Legion's strength. 
The Transjordan government was approached, and the Amir 
eagerly welcomed the proposed expansion; the first regiment 
was brought up to full strength, and a second regiment was 
raised. Soon afterwards a third regiment and a brigade head- 
quarters were added. The Amir was so delighted that he was 
ready to raise six regiments, and the troops, according to Glubb, 
were Burning for new enemies and fresh enterprises. Also 
according to Glubb, the Arab Legion was the best force in 
the world to control the Syrian desert from Turkey to the Red 
Sea, but was debarred from doing so because of the political 
jealousy of the Free French. 

In the autumn of 1942 when Rommel broke through North 
Africa and advanced to al Alamain, Glubb went to Cairo, while 
part of the Arab Legion was moved to Sinai in preparation for 
a possible battle. It was soon agreed that advance units of the 
Legion should be sent to the Western Desert, but before the 
fighting qualities of the Legion could be tested, the battle of 
al Alamain forced Rommel to flee. Perhaps the units could be 
engaged in pursuit of the enemy? Glubb flew to Cairo. "An 
anxious wait followed. Then a telegram from Eighth Army 
Headquarters. More troops were not wanted." Dejected, he 
returned to Amman. 

For a while it looked as if the Legion might serve in Persia 
against insurgent tribes that were interfering with Allied traffic. 
Glubb himself took command of the first regiment and en- 
camped at Khanaqin, almost within sight of the Persian border, 
ready for action, but at the last minute the order was cancelled; 
the regiment returned to Transjordan. Its hopes soared again 
when the Allies, under Gen. Scobie, were preparing a military 
force for a campaign in Greece. The Legion was ordered to 
concentrate in Palestine 4 for possible movement. It was inspected 
by the General himself and then was given heavy equipment. 
This was taken as a clear indication that it was to see combat 
action. There was a strong feeling that this time the Legion 
would be sent overseas. But again disappointment: it was con- 
sidered undesirable to have Arab troops on Greek soil. Glubb 


finally realized that combat possibilities for the Legion had run 
out. "This time I knew that it was finished. Four years of strenu- 
ous training and buoyant hopes seemed to have been wasted. 
The Arab Legion would never fight on a main front in Europe/* 

The participation of the Legion in the second World War 
was limited to guard duty as a result, it would seem, of British 
evaluation of the Legion's fighting qualities rather than by the 
cruelties of fate, as Glubb believed. As a last resort, the military 
authorities were sometimes willing to use the Legion for com- 
bat purposes, but as better alternatives were found it was 
restricted to guard duty. The first request for this service was 
for a company of infantry to guard the airfield in Palestine. 
Throughout the war Transjordan sent companies of her Legion 
to guard camps and stores, airfields, ports, railways and bridges 
in the Middle East, thus, according to estimates, releasing a 
British division for combat duty in Europe. 3 

During the last year of the war, the strength of the military 
units of the Arab Legion, which consisted of the Mechanized 
Brigade and sixteen garrison companies scattered over Syria, 
Iraq, Palestine and Transjordan, rose to 8,000. The original 
body the civil police section consisted of 2,000 men. Thus the 
military section, which in 1939 did not exceed 350 men, had 
increased some twenty-three times, while the police section which 
had numbered about 1,000, had nearly doubled. 

The exigencies of war brought about a basic change in the 
method of staffing the Legion, which no doubt had a far-reaching 
effect on the Legion's character. From 1926 until about 1940 
all the posts except the top ones, which were held by Britishers, 
were staffed with former officers of the Turkish army. The few 
new officers raised by the Legion were trained exclusively in 
police duties. In 1940 a new system of training Transjordanians 
for officers' duty was inaugurated, and a number of relatively 
young officers joined the ranks of the Legion. 

Financing the Legion 

From the British point of view, in terms of their responsibil- 
ities as Mandatory and of their imperial interests, the Arab 
Legion was the most important aspect of the Transjordan 

3 Glubb, Story of the Arab Legion, 311-359; Edgar O'Ballance, The Arab- 
Israeli War 1948 (New York, 1957), 26. 


administration, and it therefore received the lion's share of the 
grant-in-aid which the British Exchequer granted annually to 
Transjordan. Reporting on his term of office as High Com- 
missioner for Palestine for 1920-1925, Sir Herbert Samuel stated 
that the British grants-in-aid had been made to cover expenses 
of the Chief British Representative and his staff, and as con- 
tribution to the cost of the Arab Legion. The grant-in-aid each 
year was related closely to the strength of the Legion and to 
the overall general revenue of the country. 4 After 1934, when 
the Transjordan government was relieved of the responsibility 
of paying for the maintenance of the British Resident and his 
staff, the major part of the grant-in-aid went to maintain the 
Legion. In 1925/26 before the establishment of the Transjordan 
Frontier Force, when the budget of the Arab Legion was 
140,229, the British grant-in-aid was 103,957. In 1927/28, when 
the Transjordan Frontier Force was functioning fully and the 
strength of the Arab Legion was reduced and its budget was 
only 102,956, the grant-in-aid was reduced to 45,000. In 
1931/32, with the addition of the Desert Patrol and the Legion's 
budget increased to 108,638, the grant-in-aid went up to 
115,144. In 1935/36 when the expenses of the British Resident 
and his staff no longer had to be borne by the Transjordan 
government, the grant-in-aid went down to 81,783. The dis- 
turbances in Palestine in 1936 and the consequent increase in 
the Legion's strength necessitated an increased budget, and the 
grant-in-aid increased correspondingly. The Arab Legion was 
the most expensive item in the Transjordan administration's 
entire budget, and since the administration was heavily de- 
pendent on the British grant-in-aid to meet its budgetary obliga- 
tions, it was inevitable that with the expansion of the Legion 
the ratio of the British government's contribution toward the 
budget should become greater. In 1924 the British share in total 
expenditure was about 28 per cent; in 1936/37 it rose to 
30 per cent; in 1941/42 it rose to 49 per cent In 1945/46 total 
expendkures were LP3,454,756, the Arab Legion budget was 
LP2,399,582, and total British grants were LP2,335,043, thus 
making the British contribution about 64 per cent. 

4 Explained the Duke of Sutherland, speaking in the House of Lords on 
behalf of the government: "The grant-in-aid from Imperial revenues was 
made to the local administration primarily for the purpose of raising and 
maintaining the force in the first instance/' Great Britain, PJDJ,. 49, col. 162, 
Feb. 21, 1922. 


Side by side with the Legion was the Transjordan Frontier 
Force. At first the Force was equal in strength to the Legion. 
In 1933 it consisted of 1,041 officers and men, including a 
reserve of 154 officers and men; its cost that year was approxi- 
mately 190,000. Up to the outbreak of the war the British 
made a special annual grant to the Transjordan government of 
about 29,000 for its one-sixth share for the maintenance of 
the Force. It was officered by Britishers, recruited from the 
local population, under the management of the RAF, and 
formally under the command of the High Commissioner for 
Palestine. After 1941 it came under the direct control of and 
was financed by the British War Office. The Force experienced 
some difficulties during the war, but it was kept on even after- 
wards. With the developments in Palestine during 1947 and 
1948 and the new army character of the Legion, it was disbanded 
early in 1948. 5 

The New Independence 

Under the pressure of developments in the movement for 
Arab unity and Abdullah's own Greater Syria projects (discussed 
in the next chapter), Transjordan's position as a mandated ter- 
ritory became untenable. As the only Arab country which had 
remained loyal to and worked with and for the Allies, Trans- 
jordan could not remain a mandated area and Abdullah a mere 
administrator for the Mandatory. The Amir therefore began 
pressing tor independence; he was, however, advised not to raise 
*the issue in the midst of the war. In an official note late in 
June 1944, the British government assured Abdullah that as soon 
as the war was over, negotiations toward independence would 
be instituted. However, with the emergence of the Arab League 
of independent states early in 1945, and the deadline for found- 
ing membership in the United Nations drawing to a close, 
Transjordan became disturbed about its status. On June 27, 1945 
the Legislative Council adopted a resolution requesting Premier 
Ibrahim Pasha Hashim to demand independence from England. 
At the end of the year Abdullah was invited to London, and 
in the middle of January he was told that the British would 
inform the United Nations that the Trancjordan mandate would 

5 Great Britain, PD.C., 451, col. 187, May 26, 1948. 
shortly be terminated, that the country would become an inde- 


pendent state and would therefore not come under the authority 
of the trusteeship division of the new world organization. 
Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations on 
January 17, 1946, Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin declared that 
"regarding the future of Transjordan it is the intention of His 
Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to take steps in 
the near future for establishing the territory as a sovereign 
independent state and for recognizing its status as such." Six days 
later Prime Minister Clement Attlee informed the House of 
Commons that the Amir had accepted the invitation to visit 
London, to discuss matters connected with the establishment 
of Transjordan's independence. The UN General Assembly 
resolution (February 9, 1946) bearing on trust territories read: 
"The General Assembly welcomes the declarations made by cer- 
tain states administering territories now held under mandate, 
of an intention to negotiate trusteeship agreements in respect 
of these territories, and in respect of Transjordan to establish 
its independence." 

Abdullah and his Premier arrived in London and negotiated 
a new treaty, which was signed on March 22 in the Foreign 
Office. Foreign Secretary Bevin signed for Great Britain and 
Premier Hashim Pasha for Transjordan. It proclaimed Trans- 
jordan independent and Abdullah its sovereign. The two High 
Contracting Parties pledged friendship for each other, agreed 
to consult on all matters of foreign policy, and to exchange 
diplomatic representatives; Great Britain was to sponsor Trans- 
Jordan for membership in the United Nations. The treaty also^ 
provided for assistance to be given by one of the High Con- 
tracting Parties in case of an armed attack on the other "as a 
measure of collective self-defense," and that both would im- 
mediately concert together in the event of an imminent menace 
of hostilities. 

To give effect to the treaty, an annex of ten articles which 
was considered an integral part of the treaty was also agreed 
upon. These articles provided that Great Britain could station 
armed forces in Transjordan in places where troops were sta- 
tioned at the time the treaty was signed, and in such other 
places as would be agreed upon; Abdullah was to provide all 
the facilities for the accommodation and maintenance of these 
forces, "including the lease of any land required." He was to 
grant facilities at all times for the movement and training of 


British armed forces and for the transport of their supplies 
"by air, road, railway, waterway, and pipeline and through the 
ports of Transjordan." British troops were to have the right to 
use their own system of signal communication, including radio. 
Abdullah, in consultation with the British government, was to 
"safeguard, maintain and develop as necessary" the ports and 
lines of communication in and across the territory required for 
the free movement and maintenance of the British armed forces. 

There was to be no taxation on British government property 
in Transjordan, and no custom duty on goods imported or 
exported. The British government was to "afford financial 
assistance to His Highness the Amir in meeting the cost of the 
military units of the Amir's forces which are required to ensure" 
the assistance to be given by either of the High Contracting 
Parties in case one becomes involved in hostilities. The strength 
of these units was to be agreed upon annually by both parties, 
and Abdullah was to permit the British representative in Trans- 
jordan "to ascertain that the funds in question are expended 
for the purpose for which they are issued." Britain was also 
to reimburse Abdullah for any expenditures he incurred in 
connection with the facilities which he provided. 

In order that the military forces of both countries should be 
trained and armed by the same methods, the British were to 
provide officers to ensure the efficiency of Tranjordan's army. 
Transjordanian officers were to attend British military and 
aeronautical schools, and the British were to supply "arms, 
ammunition, equipment and aircraft and other war material." 
Abdullah, on his part, was to pay the cost of instruction, see 
to it that the arms and equipment of his forces did not differ 
from those of the British, and send all personnel to be trained 
abroad only to British military schools. The last article provided 
that the treaty should remain in force for twenty-five years from 
the effective date, and thereafter should continue for one year 
after notice of termination had been given by one of the parties 
to the other through the diplomatic channel. 6 

Two months later, on May 25, 1946, the Amirate was officially 
proclaimed the Hashimite Kingdom of Transjordan, and Abdul- 
lah was enthroned, in oriental splendor, as King. 

6 Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, Treaty of Alliance between His 
Majesty in Respect of the United Kingdom and His Highness the Amir of 
Trans-Jordan, Cmd. 6779, 1946. 











The Amirate EndsThe Kingdom Proclaimed 

In spite of its new status, Transjordan was still dependent 
on Great Britain for the existence of the Arab Legion, and the 
size of the Legion and its equipment were still determined by 
the British representative in Amman. The British government 
continued to meet the Legion's expenses on the same scale and 
on the same basis as before, but now it no longer treated the 
issue as a Mandatory responsibility but as an agreement between 
two equal contracting parties. Asked in the House of Commons 
about the strength of the Legion and its disposition, the Under 
Foreign Secretary, Christopher Paget Mayhew, stated: "The 
Arab Legion is a military force of the King of Transjordan, 
and although Article 8 of the Annex to the 1946 Treaty between 
Great Britain and Transjordan provides that the strength of the 
force wil be agreed anually by the High Contracting Parties, it 
would not be proper for His Majesty's Government to make 
public information on the subject. The current annual cost of 
this force borne by the British taxpayer is approximately 2 
million. This covers the cost of those units of the Arab Legion 
at present serving in Palestine, and also the financial assistance 
which His Majesty's Government have, under the same Treaty, 
undertaken to afford the Transjordan Government in meeting 
the cost of military units of the Transjordan forces. There are 
forty British officers attached to the Arab Legion, all of whom 
are serving in an executive capacity/' 7 

Some of Abdullah's antagonists in the Arab states attacked 
the 1946 Anglo-Transjordan treaty and Transjordan's new inde- 
pendence. As early as April 2, 1946 Lebanon made public her 
reservations to many of die treaty's provisions. The Syrian press 
assailed both treaty and Abdullah, one newspaper declaring 
that the treaty which Abdullah considered a personal victory 
was actually nothing more than an official recognition by Abdul- 
lah of the British occupation of his country. Abdullah retorted 
by asserting that if it had not been for British troops, Syria 
would have been lost, and that he was proud of Anglo-Arab 
friendship. 8 

7 Great Britain, PJXC., 436, col. 66, Apr. 21 , 1947. 

8 The Times (London), Apr. 24, 1946. 


Trcmsjordan Seeks U.N. Membership 

Refusal to accept Abdullah's position as an independent ruler 
did not come only from his opponents in the Arab states. It 
came also from members of the United Nations who refused 
to recognize the new state, among them the United States. On 
July 7, 1946 Transjordan applied for membership in the United 
Nations. After considering the petition, the Membership Com- 
mittee of the Security Council asked the Transjordan repre- 
sentative for specific information on the following points: 

1. The means of maintaining the territorial integrity and politi- 
cal independence of the Hashimite Kingdom of Transjordan; 

2. The budget of the Hashimite Kingdom of Transjordan, with 
as much detail as possible concerning sources of revenue and 
headings of expenditures; 

3. The effect of the application of the Annex of the Treaty of 
Alliance between the United Kingdom and the Hashimite 
Kingdom of Transjordan of 22 March 1946 on the mainte- 
nance of Transjordan's territorial integrity and independence. 

The intent of these questions was quite obvious; they indi- 
cated that Great Britain was really in control of the territory. 
Nevertheless, Dr. Jamil Tutunji, the Jordan representative, 

1. Transjordan, like its neighbors, was a member of the Arab 
League and feared no territorial encroachment by fellow mem- 
bers. In addition, an army of 20,000 was capable of protecting 
its borders. Finally, "and this has been the major cause of 
peace in Transjordan when countries around were boiling," 
King Abdullah was popular and had religious as well as po- 
litical powers over his 400,000 subjects, mostly Muslims. 

2. The nation was free of debt, and a recently imposed income 
tax provided much of its revenue. 

3. The British treaty was an equal accord between two nations 
"there was no major and no minor party." 

In view of Transjordan's dependence on Great Britain's con- 
tribution for its ordinary budget, Tutunjf s answer seemed in- 
sincere. As to the assertion of equality between Great Britain 
and Jordan, this could perhaps be ascribed to naivete and 
wishful thinking. What is particularly interesting is his figure 
of 20,000 as the strength of the Legion. The 2,000,000 con- 


tribution made by the British taxpayer, as stated by the Under 
Foreign Secretary, was not likely to maintain a military force 
of 20,000. 

Tutunji's statement was not accepted by the Soviet Union or 
by Egypt. The latter, a member of the Security Council, an- 
nounced that she would support Transjordan's application, but 
with a definite reservation against the validity of Transjordan's 
treaty with Britain. That Washington also had some reservations 
was evidenced by the fact that although on the basis of principle 
the United States supported the membership application, it 
refused to recognize Transjordan. 

The application was voted down on August 28, 1946 through 
the veto of the Soviet Union, and the following year it failed 
again, for the same reason. On November 28, 1947 the Soviet 
Union served notice that it would vote negatively on the 
application and consequently it was not brought up. 

More Independence 

The opposition to Abdullah from the Arabs, the hesitation of 
the United States, the failure to be elected to membership in 
the United Nations, and perhaps the most decisive factor the 
development of events in Palestine, prompted the British to 
renegotiate the treaty. In spite of its twenty-five-year life pro- 
vision, talks on a new treaty began in London early in 1948. 
On February 6 it was made known that the negotiations had 
been concluded and that the Transjordanians were returning 
home. The treaty was signed in Amman on March 15, by Alec 
Kirkbride for Great Britain and by Tawfiq Abul Huda for 
Transjordan. This was exactly two months before the announced 
expiration of the Palestine Mandate. 

This new treaty must be viewed as one link in a series of 
alliances which the British were hoping to negotiate in order 
to regularize and stabilize their position in the Middle East 
The first treaty was with Iraq and was to have been followed 
by similar pacts with Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, 
and, eventually, Egypt. The most outstanding feature all the 
treaties were to have in common was a clause providing for 
joint defense arrangements guaranteeing the area against attack. 

The treaty signed at Portsmouth on January 16, 1948 between 
Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin and Iraqi Foreign Minister Salah 



</'';:;- V'' wtiJ M ;> Mfawmfo 

King Abdullah embracing King Famq al Maza military airport, 
Cairo, June 1946 


Tabr was repudiated by the Regent. Saudi Arabia cancelled her 
negotiations, and Great Britain never even got to the discussion 
stage with Syria and Lebanon. The great scheme for a Middle 
East alliance planned by Bevin ended up with one single treaty, 
with Transjordan. 

Explaining the new treaty, the Transjordanians reversed them- 
selves. They admitted that the earlier arrangement was not 
between two equals and that many of its provisions gave the 
British complete control of their country. Real independence 
was now achieved. They hoped the new treaty would eliminate 
the objections raised by fellow-Arab states, facilitate their coun- 
try's admission into the United Nations, and win recognition 
from the United States. Their hopes were hardly justified. The 
major articles of the 1948 treaty differed little from those of the 
1946 treaty, except that some of the provisions dealing with the 
establishment of the independence and sovereignty of Trans- 
Jordan and regularizing diplomatic relations between London 
and Amman were naturally eliminated. An annex was again an 
integral part of the document, this one perhaps a little less 
harsh and offensive than the earlier one. Instead of providing 
that the British "may" station their forces in the territory, the 
King of Transjordan "invites" the British forces to be stationed 
at Amman and Mafraq in peace time and anywhere in the 
country in time of war. Abdullah was obligated to supply the 
same facilities. 

In the interests of common defense, the new annex called for 
the formation of a permanent joint advisory body, to be com- 
posed of an equal number of competent military representatives 
from each country. The functions of this joint board were 
listed; they were all of a consultative rather than an executive 
nature. The other provisions were practically the same as those 
of the former annex: the British undertook to finance the 
Transjordan army; Abdullah was to provide all the necessary 
facilities; the British were to supply and train Abdullah's 
military officers. 

A few sentences and expressions in the new treaty might have 
given the impression that the agreement was actually between 
two equal powers. An example is subparagraph b in Article 1 
of the annex: "In the event of either High Contracting Party 
becoming engaged in war, or of a menace of hostilities, each 
High Contracting Party will invite the other to bring to his 


territory or territory controlled by him the necessary forces of 
all arms. Each will furnish to the other all the facilities and 
assistance in his power, including the use of all means of lines 
of communications, and on financial terms to be agreed upon/' 9 
The status of the Arab Legion was not materially affected by 
this latest version of Transjordan's independence. Its existence 
was still controlled by the British, who were to determine its 
strength and its effectiveness. However, its role in the coming 
conflict in Palestine was agreed upon between the British and 
the Transjordanians during the negotations in London, and 
did not appear in the written paragraphs of the new treaty, 

9 Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, Treaty of Alliance between His 
Majesty in Respect of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern 
Ireland and His Majesty the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, 
Cmd. 7368, 1948. 

Chapter XIII 

THE MODERN HISTORY of Transjordan was deter- 
mined in great measure by the British who, as Mandatory 
for the League of Nations, guided the territory's admin- 
istration under strong, though indirect, control. The instrument 
for executing that control was the Amir Abdullah. In order to 
appreciate fully Transjordan 's role in the Middle East in the 
last thirty years, one must evaluate Abdullah's character, his 
ambitions for the Arabs, and the methods he employed for 
realizing those ambitions. 

Abdullah's Character 

From the very emergence of the Arab movement early in this 
century, Abdullah considered himself, because of his background 
and experience, the political thinker of the movement. As his 
father's adviser and later Foreign Minister, he felt that he was 
shaping the political growth and development of the move- 
ment. He was a dreamer, in the tradition of the desert He saw 
a vision of Arab revival and power in which he himself played 
the proper role. At the same time he was also a realist who 
fully appreciated what was practicably attainable and what 
was sheer imagery of fantastic objectives ever to be postponed. 
He saw no conflict between his two sides. While in general 
practice he drew word pictures of long-range aims, the policies 
he pursued were by comparison picayune and insignificant, 
with strictly limited objectives. Although he was himself an 
Arab of the desert, or perhaps because of it, he had the 
healthiest appreciation of the limitation of the possibilities of 
what the Arabs could do by their own efforts. He saw dearly 
that the British were not primarily altruistically motivated, and 
that their major consideration was their own interests, yet he 



believed that through close cooperation with them, Arab ob- 
jectives could be furthered. 1 Above all he felt that opposition 
to the British would bring only negative, if not disastrous, results 
to the Arab Revolt movement. 

While he asked for the maximum he accepted the minimum 
without resentment and without disappointment, as if this 
system of results were the natural course of things, unlike many 
Arab leaders he realized the weakness of the Arabs and never 
permitted the hyperbole of imagination to interfere with the 
limited practical possibilities. Although he always felt that he 
had been mistreated, if not betrayed, by his father and his 
younger brother Faisal, he did not sulk but was ready to work 
with them. 

His sense of balance manifested itself in his relations with 
Lawrence. The latter, himself a romantic in search of the Arab 
messiah, had expected to meet in Abdullah an Arab dreamer, 
reckless in fighting and magnetic in personal leadership; instead 
he met an easy-going, fun-loving Arab chieftain who took every- 
thing in his stride, including the Arab Revolt. Lawrence did 
not keep his disappointment with Abdullah a secret, even from 
Abdullah, and the two heartily disliked each other, yet Abdul- 
lah accepted Lawrence as the chief British representative in 
Transjordan, cooperated with his administration, and followed 
his recommendations. 

He also heartily despised the Wahhabis and their fanaticism. 
He saw the danger the upstart Sultan of Najd, Abdul Aziz Ibn 
Saud, was to the House of Hashim and for years he fought the 
Wahhabis, yet after the debacle at Khurma he realized the 
futility of continuing the battle and refused to obey his father's 

1 Speaking of British Arab policy, Abdullah declared: "If correctly under- 
stood and promptly implemented [it] would benefit all parties concerned for 
a long time to come." While in London he said: "I found the greatest sup- 
port for the idea of an Islamic front. This attitude was demanded by the 
interests of Great Britain, who would be the friend of Islam everywhere if 
she could only find those who would understand her and profit by British 
advice, experience, and strength/' In the summer of 1947 when the tension 
between Britain and Egypt was mounting to a high pitch and Egypt was 
threatening to take the issue between them to the United Nations, Abdullah 
wrote to King Faruq: "Perhaps I might privately suggest to Your Majesty 
that if with God's help you were to order the resumption of the conversations 
between Egypt and Great Britain and postpone the submission of the ques- 
tion to the United Nations, Your Majesty might save Egypt and set its sister- 
nations at rest concerning their future, for they will certainly be involved in 
any new war." Abdullah, My Memoirs Completed f ix. 46, 68. 


orders; indeed, he sided with the British in their efforts to bring 
his father and Ibn Saud together. Although his father never 
forgave him, he continued to respect Husain and to work for 
the realization of his ambitions. 

Abdullah resented the selection of Faisal as the leader of the 
Arab Revolt, and even more, his subsequent appointment as 
head of Syria; he was bitter at the British refusal, after Faisal 
was established in Syria, to permit him, Abdullah, to head the 
Arab delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. Nevertheless, 
when Faisal was driven out of Syria, he announced that he 
was going to restore Syria to his brother. He knew that without 
the British he could never achieve this objective, and he ended 
up by accepting the administration of the backward territory 
of Transjordan on behalf of the British as the Mandatory 
power responsible to the League of Nations. 

Abdullah always maintained that Transjordan was only the 
southern part of Syria and that he was there preparatory to 
achieving complete Arab liberation, for which purpose he had 
given up the Hijaz. His slogan became: "All of Syria to come 
under the leadership of a scion of the House of Hashim; Trans- 
jordan was the first step." 

In fact, however, he accepted the British terms. One of these 
was that he was to prevent attacks on French-mandated Syria, 
for which very purpose he had supposedly come to Transjordan. 
What Abdullah had was time and patience. If a goal could not 
be achieved today or even tomorrow, that was no reason to 
give it up; time might change conditions, time might make 
possible a partial fulfillment; time and patience would in the 
long run reward those who waited. 

The first few years of Abdullah's regime in Transjordan sup- 
ply two examples of his ability to demand much and accept little. 
His first agreement with Great Britain gave him practically 
a free hand in disposing of the British subsidy, and in traditional 
fashion he spent the money recklessly in largesse to relatives 
and followers; in 1922 he squandered some LP70,000 for his 
personal needs. Yet later on he was willing to accept very rigid 
control of the financial operations of the territory which he 
headed, and the reduced amount of LP15,000 for his annual 
personal expenses. His acceptance of British assistance even of 
the most overbearing type might have stemmed not from 
willingness to submit to the ruling power, but from the realiza- 


tion that the Arabs were not yet ready to shoulder the task of 
self-government, for he ascribed "the blunders and excesses com- 
mitted by the Arabs to the fact that they took over the reins of 
authority while they were still inexperienced and lacking in 
konwledge. This taking over of authority had been their goal, 
but it was also the source of their weakness." 

Another example concerned the numerical strength of the 
future Arab Legion. The question of a military force to main- 
tain public order in the Amirate was discussed with Sir 
Wyndham Deedes, Chief Secretary of the Palestine government. 
Abdullah recorded that he was of the opinion "that a regular 
division should be formed containing infantry, artillery and 
cavalry, and consisting of three regiments of three battalions 
of 800 men each. This should be equipped with mountain-guns, 
field artillery and machine-guns. There should also be a brigade 
of camelry 1,500 strong, and equipped with rifles and either 
lances or swords." Sir Wyndham explained that such a force 
would be too costly; Abdullah accepted a force of about 750 
men. 2 

Greater Syria 

From the time Abdullah arrived at the borders of Trans Jordan 
until his assassination, he carried with him a vision of a Greater 
Syria over whose destinies he, as the important member of 
the Hashimi family, would preside. Because it had to have 
flexibility and be adjustable to given conditions, the scope of 
this Greater Syria was never spelled out; Abdullah was willing 
to wait. 

In his repeated efforts to raise and press the Greater Syria 
plan, Abdullah met with antagonism, suspicion, and open hos- 
tility. Many Syrian nationalists feared that he wanted to swallow 
up their country and to deprive them of their leadership in the 
Arab movement; they felt that if there were to be a Greater 
Syria, it should start with Syria proper as the core, to which 
should be added Lebanon, Palestine and Transjordan, rather 
than that backward Transjordan should be the core and its 
bedouin ruler the leader and head. On the other hand, a num- 
ber of Syrian notables saw the solution to the Arab problem in 

2 Memoirs of King Abdullah, 229. 


the establishment of a Syrian kindom whose head would be 

At first Abdullah limited himself to Syria; Iraq was not brought 
into the picture until after the death of Faisal on September 8, 
1933. The following March Abdullah went to London, and early 
in April he arrived in Bagdad for a short stay. This gave rise to 
speculation that the purpose of his visit was to extend his rule. 
The only result of the trip to London was the modification of 
the 1928 Agreement. But from that time on Abdullah began to 
think of a union of some kind between Iraq and Syria, of which 
he, as the oldest of the Hashimi family and the remaining leader 
of the Arab Revolt, would be the head. Some Iraqis objected 
violently to this ambition; they felt that their country, the 
greatest and richest of all the Arab states, was the natural leader, 
and if any Arab unity was to emerge it must be under the 
hegemony of Bagdad. 

Abdullah's plan also met with resistance from some of the 
Arab nationalists in Palestine. The aspirations of Haj Amin al 
Husaini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, clashed head-on with those of 
Abdullah, and the two Arab leaders became mortal enemies 
from the moment Abdullah arrived in Amman. Haj Amin saw 
himself in the role of the Arab liberator who would free Palestine 
from the British and expand his power eastward and northward 
to form a great Arab empire. Abdullah in Transjordan was a 
thorn in his side, and Abdullah's Greater Syria plan would doom 
his own future. Moreover, some Palestine Arabs believed that 
the first step in the realization of Abdullah's scheme would be 
in the direction of Palestine, and that could only mean a com- 
promise with the British at their expense. Yet Abdullah also 
had a substantial following among the Palestine Arabs, espe- 
cially the Nashashibis, who opposed the Mufti's party, who were 
more moderate in their demands on the British, and were will- 
ing to accept Abdullah as king of Palestine under British 

The Saudi Arabians were naturally suspicious of any attempt 
by the Hashimis to expand. In spite of British efforts to bring 
Ibn Saud into closer relations with Abdullah and his brother 
Faisal, the deep-seated enmity prevailed. Abdullah maintained 
that the Hijaz had been lost by the Hashimis because they had 
devoted themselves to the liberation of Syria. "I say frankly 
that we left the Hijaz for the sake of Syria and Palestine and lost 


it to a barbarous Arab people who set themselves with a will to 
destroying, plundering, and committing desecration in its holy 
territory. Not satisfied with inflicting this heavy loss on us, they 
consider everyone who comes to pay his respects to me as having 
committed a crime worthy of imprisonment and torture." 3 The 
Saudis were determined not to let Abdullah realize his Greater 
Syria ambition by extending his power outside of Transjordan, 
lest the Hashimis be tempted to reconquer the Hijaz. Later on, 
when Egypt became interested in Arab affairs and took an active 
part in inter- Arab politics, she too became a strong opponent 
of the Greater Syria scheme. Ambitious herself for Arab leader- 
shipbeing the greatest in numbers, in development and culture 
she would not permit any increase in Hashimi power and 
prestige, whether it be in the Iraq or the Transjordan branch 
of the family. 

Cooperation with the British 

This formidable opposition did not discourage Abdullah, and 
at every possible opportunity he raised the Greater Syria scheme. 
He was always willing to cooperate with the British, even at the 
risk of antagonizing the Palestine Arab leadership. On Septem- 
ber 11, 1922 he came to Jerusalem and attended the official 
proclamation of the coming into effect of the League of Nations 
Mandate. Some of the Palestine Arab nationalists boycotted the 
proclamation since they opposed the Mandate, and they con- 
sidered Abdullah's attendance a betrayal of the Arab cause. But 
Abdullah, if he was to have any standing whatsoever, had to 
recognize the Mandate, for it was by the force of this Mandate 
that he was Amir of Transjordan, acting on behalf of the 

When the British were negotiating for a bilateral treaty with 
his father, various plans for the Arab territories had been dis- 
cussed, among them an Arab federation headed by Husain and 
composed of the two areas under the Hashimis, Iraq and Trans- 
jordan. It was assumed that if Palestine were to be included 
even with the full recognition of the Jewish National Home 
and its implications Abdullah would head the kingdom of 

3 Abdullah, My Memoirs Completed, 35. 


Palestine and Transjordan. 4 Husain's stubbornness eliminated 
any possibility of a federation. The Hashimis then played their 
last card the Caliphate. Should Husain's self-proclaimed Cali- 
phate be accepted in the Muslim world, the British would be 
willing to grant many concessions; it was worth trying. The 
opportunity presented itself, as was described above, while 
Husain was visiting in Amman. Abdullah was the moving spirit 
in the venture, but alas, it backfired disastrously. 

After the Hijaz was lost by the Hashimis and the British 
established Transjordan authority in the Maan-Aqaba area, 
Abdullah settled down to wait patiently for opportunities to 
advance his Greater Syria plan. 

Palestine Royal Commission Recommendations 

The deteriorating relations between Great Britain and the 
Arab nationalist leaders of Palestine reached a crisis early in 
1936. On April 25 the Arab Higher Committee, composed of all 
the various groups in Palestine and under the presidency of Haj 
Amin al Husaini, was formed; a general strike was proclaimed 
and riots broke out in several parts of the country. As a conces- 
sion to Arab demands, the Palestine High Commissioner in- 
formed the Arab Higher Committee on May 13 that a Royal 
Commission would be sent to investigate Arab grievances, pro- 
vided order was restored and the strike called off. The Arabs did 
not respond. Nevertheless, the British government announced 
in the House of Commons that a Royal Commission had been 
appointed and that it would leave for Palestine as soon as order 
was restored. But how to do this when the Arab were not willing 
to call off the strike? Perhaps Abdullah, who had managed to 
keep the Transjordanians out of the struggle, could be of help. 
On June 4, the High Commissioner flew to Amman and pro- 
posed that Abdullah intervene and try to bring an end to the 
strike. Two days later Abdullah met with the Higher Committee 
in Amman, but achieved no results. The British succeeded in 
persuading Premier Nuri as Said of Iraq, King Ibn Saud and 
Abdullah to offer mediation to the Palestine Arabs, but the 
Higher Committee persisted with the strike. Meanwhile London 

4 Syria was not part of the scheme, nor was Lebanon, since they were under 
French mandate, and the speculations, whether inspired or otherwise, about 
the federation were limited to the areas under British control. 


had sent some 20,000 troops into Palestine and had begun to 
take strong measures against the Arabs; this, combined with 
the economic effect of the strike, made the Higher Committee 
amenable to the mediation offers. On October 11 it announced 
that it had responded to the appeals of October 8 and 9 by King 
Ghazi of Iraq, King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the Amir 
Abdullah of Transjordan. Of the three, the one nearest and 
in most direct contact with the situation was Abdullah. 

A month later the Royal Commission arrived in Palestine. 
The following April Abdullah went to London to the corona- 
tion of King George VI, and on July 7 the Royal Commission's 
report was made public. The most sensational and radical rec- 
ommendation was the partition of Palestine into three parts: 
a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a permanent British mandate. 
The Commission did not define the Arab state but simply stated 
that it would consist of those parts of Palestine which did not 
comprise either the Jewish state or the permanent British man- 
date, and that it was to be united with Transjordan. It also 
recommended that the proposed Jewish state pay a subvention 
to the Arab state, and of course the British were to continue 
their subvention to Transjordan. 5 

One can readily appreciate the allure that the proposal and 
its conditions had for Abdullah. Here was an opportunity to 
increase his territory; the subvention from the Jewish state and 
the British grant-in-aid would bolster his government financially; 
in short, it could be a very important step in itself, and at the 
same time it would advance the Greater Syria plan. But he had 
to be most tactful in making his position known; it would not 
be good policy, toward the British or toward the Jews, to appear 
too eager to accept the recommendation; nor would it have been 
advisable, in terms of Palestine Arab politics, to endorse parti- 
tion and appear as if he were ready to surrender Arab claims 
to the rest of Palestine. Abdullah decided to accept the parti- 
tion scheme, but seemingly reluctantly and unwillingly. He very 
likely dropped a word in the proper places that he was amenable 
to the proposal so that the British could proceed toward its 
implementation, while publicly he refrained from either accept- 
ing it too readily or rejecting it. 

Two days after the publication of the report, the Arab Higher 

5 Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, Palestine Royal Commission Report, 
Cmd. 5479, 1937, 381-387. 







Committee addressed an appeal for advice and guidance to the 
Arab kings and amirs at whose request they had called off the 
strike. Ibn Saud was noncommittal; Abdullah gave vague and 
cautious directions, but the Premier of Iraq, Hikmat Sulaiman, 
in a statement to the press, called on the Arabs to defend the 
rights of the Palestinian Arabs. He unequivocally condemned 
the partition proposal and, obviously meaning Abdullah, de- 
clared: "Any person venturing to act as head of such a state 
would be regarded as an outcast throughout the Arab world, and 
would incur the wrath of Muslims all over the East. I declare, 
both as head of an Arab government and as a private citizen, 
that I shall always oppose any individual ready to stab the 
Arab race to the heart in order to secure the rulership of the 
proposed new state." The Arab Higher Committee rejected the 
proposal, and a non-governmental Arab conference convened 
in Bludan (Syria) early in September 1937 protested against the 
partition proposal. 6 

It was generally believed that Abdullah favored partition; not 
only was the press full of reports that the Amir was for the pro- 
posal, but W. Ormsby-Gore, appearing before the Permanent 
Mandates Commission as Mandatory representative, stated that 
"he had every reason to believe that, for national and possibly 
other reasons, the Arabs of Trans-Jordan not only the Amir Ab- 
dullah who had come out in favor of it would like a larger state, 
would like independence, and regarded the proposal favorably." 
The following June, in a letter to the president of the Young 
Muslim Association, Abdullah wrote: "Since the people of 
Palestine have confined themselves to making protests, I have 
considered it my duty under my religion according to which I 
worship God and as something enjoined upon me by my racial 
affiliation, to strive to ward off the calamity by bringing about the 
union of Palestine and Transjordan. The inhabitants of Palestine 
are 100,000 more than those of Transjordan and would ably take 
over the leadership of the administration of such a state." 7 

But Abdullah was not to see his power extended beyond the 
limits of Transjordan as a result of the Royal Commission re- 

6 Arnold J. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1937 (London, 1938), 
I, 551. 

7 League of Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the 
Thirty-Second Session, 173; Survey of International Affairs 1937, 1, 555; Abdul- 
lah, My Memoirs Completed, 98; Palestine. A Study of Jewish, Arab and 
British Policies (New Haven, 1947), H, 857. 


port. Strong opposition to partition came from elements in 
England, from the Arabs of Palestine, as well as from some 
Jews, and although at first the British government had declared 
itself in favor of partition, when the Technical Commission was 
sent out to Palestine supposedly to work out the actual plans 
for implementing the Royal Commission's proposal, it was 
common knowledge that Whitehall had already given up parti- 
tion (and the new commission was nicknamed the "no-partition 
commission.") Abdullah still hoped that some plan might mate- 
rialize and he worked with the new commission. But the commis- 
sion's report, which elaborated three possible plans, invalidated 
partition as a solution to the Palestine problem. As World 
War II approached, Abdullah was no nearer extending his 
Amirate or advancing his Greater Syria plan that he had been 
in the early 'twenties, but now, as then, he did not give up, and 
now as then he was prepared to wait. 

In 1939 a flicker of hope flared up for a moment in Syria 
itself. The French were considering the possibility of converting 
that state into a monarchy, and there were rumors that Abdullah, 
as the combined choice of the Arabs, the British and the French, 
would be king. Abdul Rahman Shahbandar, one of the fiery 
early nationalist leaders in Syria, was reportedly supporting both 
the idea of a monarchy and Abdullah as the monarch. Opposi- 
tion from other Syrian nationalist leaders, as well as, on reflec- 
tion, the incongruity of the French government's establishing a 
monarchy, quickly extinguished this dim hope. 8 

Inter-Arab Ambitions 

The term Arab unity, as used by the Arabs, meant different 
things to different people, depending on their background and 
ambitions. In Iraq, it meant, for a long time, unification of 
Syria with Iraq. This would give Iraq an outlet to the Mediter- 
ranean, a more balanced economy, better distribution of popula- 
tion, and greater prestige in the Arab and non-Arab worlds. 
Unity meant full and complete amalgamation. To the Lebanese, 
it meant some sort of loose league in which Arabic matters 
might be discussed but in which each member-country would 
retain its own identity, independence and sovereignty. When 

8 Kirk, Survey of International Affairs 1939-1946. The Middle East in the 
War, 84n. 


Egypt entered the area of Arab politics in the early 1940's, 
Arab unity meant bringing all the Arab countries into a very 
close federation, if not into a unitarian state, dominated by 
Egypt. To Syria, Arab unity meant a close union of all the 
countries stretching from the Turkish border to Egypt and east- 
ward, with Damascus as the political center. To Abdullah, it 
meant first an expansion of his Amirate into Syria, Palestine, 
loosely into Lebanon; these elements would form a bloc which 
might later form a federation or unitary state with Iraq, and 
still later a loose league with three or four major Arab powers, 
in which league the Hashimis would of course be the leaders. 
It is within these different approaches to Arab unity that the 
developments in the Arab world between 1939 and 1948 must 
be viewed, and the efforts of Abdullah on behalf of his Greater 
Syria, to him synonymous with Arab unity, must be seen. 

The outbreak of World War II gave Abdullah new hope. 
Through his Arab Legion's fighting in the Allied battle lines he 
would attain political concessions. Although its strength was 
constantly augmented, the Legion did not see much action. 
Abdullah nevertheless began pressing the British on his favorite 
plan. In July 1940 he sent two notes to London requesting, 
among other things, the union of Syria and Transjordan. The 
British advised that he postpone discussion of that issue until 
the war was over. On September 12 of the same year, on Arab 
Revolt Day, when British prestige in the Middle East was very 
low, Abdullah assured his audience of ultimate British victory, 
and with the British he pleaded that they fulfill the pledge of 
Arab unification they had made to his father. Arab unity sud- 
denly became a propaganda issue between the Axis powers and 
the British, and the latter began to prepare the ground for 
what was later to become the Arab League. Anthony Eden, who 
was visiting the Middle East in the middle of 1940, broached 
the subject to Arab leaders. During November, while on a 
courtesy call to Eden in Cairo, Abdullah saw King Faruq and 
the Egyptian Premier, Mustafa Nahas Pasha, and he discussed 
the question of Greater Syria with both the Egyptians and 
the Britishers. 

British Policy on Arab Unity 

British policy on Arab unity was formulated in Anthony 


Eden's Mansion House statement on May 29, 1941. "The Arab 
world has made great strides since the settlement reached at 
the end of the last war, and many Arab thinkers desire for the 
Arab peoples a greater degree of unity than they now enjoy. 
In reaching out toward this unity they hope for our support 
No such appeal from our friends should go unanswered. It 
seems to me both natural and right that the cultural and eco- 
nomic ties between the Arab countries and the political ties, 
too, should be strengthened. His Majesty's Government for their 
part will give their full support to any scheme that commands 
general approval." 

Meanwhile, on the Syrian front, Gen. Georges Catroux, com- 
mander in chief and delegate of the Free French in the Levant, 
issued a proclamation, on June 8, 1941, in the name of the 
French, promising the Levant states independence. He was sup- 
ported by the British Ambassador in Cairo, Sir Miles Lampson, 
who made a statement to that effect. Abdullah lost no time. The 
promise of independence for Syria was the moment to press for 
his plan, and on July 1, 1941 the Transjordan Legislative Coun- 
cil passed a resolution requesting the unification of divided 
Syria into an independent state. The resolution pointed out 
that the statements of Eden, Catroux and Lampson had prom- 
ised independence; that Transjordan, through her loyalty and 
military potential could create the desired unity* "Transjordan 
has shown in the past that it can provide leadership in the right 
direction to the Syrian people"; and the geographic and eco- 
nomic factors made unification imperative. The resolution was 
sent to the British government, but the British Minister of 
State in the Middle East, Oliver Littleton, went to Amman and 
told Abdullah that the pressure of the war made it impossible 
to deal immediately with the question his Legislative Council 
had raised, and advised him to wait until the war was over. 

But Abdullah was persistent. On November 6, in his opening 
speech to the Legislative Council, he declared that he would not 
allow anything or anybody to prevent the union of divided 
Syria into one great state. In March 1942, in a speech in Jeru- 
salem, he stated that as the only surviving leader of the Arab 
Revolt he would not let anyone divert him from the cause of 
Syrian unification. In the spring of 1942 the French agreed to 
allow free elections to be held in Syria and Lebanon; whereupon 
Abdullah addressed a manifesto to the Syrians, on April 18, in 


which he declared that the Atlantic Charter paved the way for 
the realization of the 1920 Syrian national claims under Hashimi 
leadership; he invited Syrian leaders "from the Gulf of Aqaba 
to the Mediterranean and Upper Euphrates" to a conference in 
Amman. This clashed head-on with the efforts of Nahas Pasha 
and Nuri Said Pasha, the Premiers of Egypt and Iraq, who were 
trying to bring Arab leaders together to form an Arab union. 

Formation of the Arab League 

After Rommel's repulse at the battle of^ al Alamain, political 
activity in Egypt was renewed and the Egyptian leaders turned 
their faces eastward and became interested in Arab affairs. In 
December 1942 the Regent of Iraq and his Premier visited Cairo, 
where Nuri Pasha declared that Arab unity was the first aspira- 
tion of all the Arab states. Abdulah knew that Nuri's unity was 
not Greater Syria. From then on the circle of his antagonists 
was complete; not only did he have to face the Arab nationalists 
in Palestine, the anti-Hashimis in Syria, and the Saudis, but 
Egypt had joined the ranks of his opponents, and even his 
Hasimite sister-country was against him. 

On February 24, 1943 Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden made 
a statement in the House of Commons in which he repeated 
the contents of his Mansion House statement and emphasized 
particularly that the initiative for and the character of the 
unity move must come from the Arabs themselves. This was a 
warning to Abdullah that the British would not support the 
Greater Syria plan unless it was approved by all the Arab states. 
About a month later Nahas Pasha announced that all the Arab 
leaders had been invited by the Egyptian government to a con- 
ference in Cairo to study and work out plans for Arab unity. It 
was to counteract this move that Abdullah issued his call for a 
conference at Amman, but the invitation produced no response. 

In June, Nuri Pasha came up with the following scheme for 
Arab unity. Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Transjordan were 
to be united and constituted into one state; the people of that 
state were to decide the form of government monarchy or repub- 
licand whether it should be a unitary or a federal state. An 
Arab league to be formed was to be composed of Iraq and Syria 
and was to be joined later by other Arab states, if they so de- 
sired* The league was to have a permanent council, nominated 


by the member-states, and was to be presided over by one of the 
rulers of the member-states, who was to be chosen in a manner 
the states would decide. The council was to be responsible for 
defense, foreign affairs, currency, communications, customs, and 
the protection of minority rights in the states belonging to the 
league. The Jews of Palestine were to have semi-autonomy, and 
the right to their own rural and urban district administration, 
including schools, health institutions and police, subject to the 
general supervision of the Syrian state. 

Nuri's Fertile Crescent plan was not the one visualized by 
Abdullah. Abdullah would not let the Syrian and Palestinian 
nationalists and the Lebanese Christians decide what sort of 
regime they should have; moreover, the Arab league of Nuri's 
scheme would give Iraq primacy. Abdullah would not accept 
Nuri's plan. However, the negative response to his call weak- 
ened his determination; Nahas Pasha clearly indicated his atti- 
tude toward Abdullah's aspiration during a visit to Palestine 
in the early part of June. Invited to visit Amman, he replied 
that he "regretted that he could not accept the invitation owing 
to pressure of work." A discussion with Nuri, who had stopped 
off in Amman on his way to the preparatory conference in Cairo, 
persuaded Abdullah to hold back temporarily in his drive for 
his own plan and await results of the Cairo conference. 9 

In August, Nuri and Nahas discussed the various proposals 
for Arab unity, and toward the end of the month they extended 
invitations to Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Transjordan to come 
to Cairo. Transjordan was the only one that accepted and sent 
Premier Tawfiq Abul Huda. In response to the Egyptian gov- 
ernment's invitation, Syria demanded a guarantee that her re- 
cently acquired national independence would not be interfered 
with, and Lebanon asked for special guarantees for her national 

9 The Hashimite Kingdom of Transjordan, Al Kitab al-Urdunni al Abyad 
Suriya al Kubra (Arabic: The Transjordan White Paper: Greater Syria), 
(Amman, 1947); G. E. K., "Cross Currents Within the Arab League," The 
World Today, IV, 19-21, Jan., 1948; Majid Khadduri, "The Arab League as a 
Regional Agreement," American Journal of International Law, XL, 764-765, 
Oct., 1946; Kirk, Survey of International Affairs 1939-1946. The Middle East 
in the War, 336-337; Abdel-Hameed Hamdy, "A Histro-Political Analysis 
for the Schemes for Arab Unity. The Causes of Its Failure and Success/* 
L'Egypte Contemporaine,XLIV, 13-19, Oct., 1953; Fayez Sayegh, Mashru Suriya 
al Kubra (Arabic: The Greater Syria Scheme), (Beirut, 1946); W. E. Goldner, 
"The Role of Abdullah Ibn Hussein King of Jordan in Arab Politics, 1914- 
1951," (PhD. thesis, 1954), Stanford University; R. H. Pfaff, "Fertile Crescent 
Unity'* (MA. thesis, 1956), .University of California. 


independence and traditional identity. At the preliminary con- 
ference, Abul Huda stressed that Transjordan was taking part 
in Arab unity talks for the purpose of bringing about the 
unification of geographical Syria, and he declared that his 
country no longer saw any reason why it should not proceed 
forthwith with the unification of Syria, 

Meanwhile, with his Greater Syria plan in mind as well as to 
strengthen his position in the negotiations for Arab unity, 
Abdullah began to press the British for a change in Trans- 
jordan's status. London was not responsive. No change until the 
war was over. Leadership of the Arab unity movement had very 
decidedly passed into the hands of Egypt's Nahas, and there was 
very little that Abdullah could do about it. 

The Alexandria Protocol 

The preparatory conference opened in Alexandria on Septem- 
ber 25, 1944, with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan and Egypt 
participating. On October 4 Abul Huda urged the approval of 
Syrian unity on the basis of Abdullah's plan, it being clearly 
understood that Abdullah was to be king of the new state. 
Resistance came from Syria and Lebanon, and from Saudi Arabia, 
which was still hesitating to join the projected league. When 
the conference concluded that it was premature to discuss the 
Transjordan plan and dismissed it, Abul Huda proposed that 
Syria and Transjordan should not sign the protocol that had 
been prepared, but that they be given an opportunity to nego- 
tiate directly before joining the proposed league. Jamil Mardam 
Bey of Syria expressed his conviction that the unification of 
Syria as proposed by Abdullah could not materialize since 
his country preferred a republican form of government; instead, 
he advised that Transjordan, which had been part of Syria 
under the Faisal administration, should return to the mother 

The Alexandria Protocol for the formation of a League of 
Arab States was signed on October 7, 1944 by all those who 
participated in the conference; by Saudi Arabia on January 21, 
1945; and some time later by Yemen. Apparently in protest 
against the Arab states' refusal to consider the Greater Syria 
plan, Abul Huda resigned, and Abdullah named Samir Pasha ar 
Rifai as the new Premier. 


In spite of the understanding supposed to have existed be- 
tween Nahas and Nuri prior to the convening of the Alexandria, 
conference, Egypt was determined not to permit the Hashimis 
to gain leadership in the proposed Arab League. Cairo's opposi- 
tion was not limited to Abdullah's Greater Syria, the immediate 
obvious objective of one of the Hashimis, but extended to Iraq 
as a potential force in the League. King Faruq went to Saudi 
Arabia to line up Ibn Saud (who was far from unwilling to work 
against his dynastic rivals and enemies) against Abdullah and 
Iraq; Shukri al Kuwatli, the President of Syria, also visited 
Saudi Arabia and argued against Abdullah. The anti-Abdullah 
front was becoming solid. 

To counteract these moves, Abdullah sent his older son, Talal, 
to Bagdad to confer with Nuri; the Regent of Iraq, Abdul 
Illah, came to Amman to confer with Abdullah; the High Com* 
missioner for Palestine was invited to the Amman meeting in an 
effort to induce the British to support their old and trusted 
friends in the Middle East against the Syro-Egyptian bloc. 
Abdullah argued that before the upper structure of the League 
was formed, the more basic regional organization should come 
into existence; the Egyptians maintained just the opposite that 
the structure of the League must come first. 

Independence of Greater Syria 

It was in this atmosphere of tension between the two groups 
that the Cairo conference opened, on February 15, 1945. Trans- 
jordan was still a mandated territory, while all the other par- 
ticipants were fully independent states. On March 22 the Charter 
of the League of Arab States was signed by all the countries 
present; Yemen signed later. Meanwhile, on February 28, 
Lebanon, and on March 1, just beating the deadline, Egypt, 
Syria and Saudi Arabia declared war on the Axis powers and 
signed the United Nations declaration, thus assuring themselves 
founding membership in the new world organization. On May 18 
Premier Samir ar Rifai resigned and Abdullah replaced him 
with Ibrahim Pasha Hashim; on June 27 the Legislative Council 
instructed Hashim to request independence from England. It is 
likely that Abdullah's opponents in the Arab League granted 
membership to Transjordan,. in spite of the fact that it was not 
an independent state, in order to place it in a position of being 


tolerated and thus prevent it from becoming an active leader in 
the League. 

The following year, on March 22, 1946, the status of Trans- 
Jordan was changed from mandate to independent kingdom, and 
Abdullah's status from Amir to King. Now more than ever he 
was determined to extend his powers in the direction of Greater 
Syria 10 and perhaps even in the direction of Iraq, for in Febru- 
ruary, before he left for London to conclude a new treaty, he 
met with the Iraq Regent in Amman and discussed with him 
closer unity between the two Hashimite sister-countries. That 
autumn he went to Bagdad and on his return to Amman, on 
September 20, he declared publicly that the time had come for 
the two countries to be united, and that a treaty of alliance 
would soon be submitted to Parliament. "I believe that when 
union between Transjordan and Iraq is realized, other coun- 
tries will follow their example." The Iraqis were not, however, 
eager to unite and when the treaty was made public, under the 
name of a "treaty of alliance and brotherhood," it was far from 
providing for the anticipated union predicted by Abdullah. 

Abdullah Persists 

Simultaneously, Abdullah continued to pursue his Greater 
Syria scheme. On November 11, 1946, in a speech from the 
throne at the opening of Parliament, he noted that the Greater 
Syria scheme was a basic principle of Transjordan's foreign 
policy. The reaction to this statement both in Lebanon and Syria 
was negative. Despite this, Abdullah succeeded, with the aid of 
Iraq, in bringing up his plan before the foreign ministers of the 
Arab League, meeting in Cairo, but as was to be expected, the 
plan was rejected (November 26) by a very strong resolution. 
To increase his prestige, Abdullah began to work for closer rela- 
tions with Turkey. On June 11, 1947 he returned from a visit to 
Ankara with a treaty of friendship. He expressed support for 
Turkish claims to AJexandretta, to the chagrin and exaspera- 
tion of the Syrians, and the relations between Transjordan and 
Syria became strained. When the Council of the Arab League 
met in March 1947, it had on its agenda the item: "The rela- 

10 In reply to a congratulatory telegram from the leader of the Egyptian 
Wafd, Abdullah wrote: "The complete independence of Transjordan will be 
attained only after the realization of the Greater Syria plan/* 


tions between Transjordan and Syria," for Syria had complained 
officially that Abdullah was interfering in her internal affairs. 
Early in May, Transjordan issued a 300-page Greater Syria Plan 
White Paper in which it attempted to justify its policy, and on 
the 25th, on the first anniversary of Transjordan's new indepen- 
dence, Abdullah pleaded again for the adoption of his Greater 
Syria plan. 

On August 14, 1947 Abdullah issued a proclamation calling 
on "the regional governments of all Syria" to convene a national 
conference at Amman to discuss and consider the union or fed- 
eration of geographic Syria, and along with the proclamation 
he sent his Foreign Minister to Syria and Lebanon to deliver 
personally the invitations to the Presidents of those republics. 
This time the reaction was violent; on August 27 Egypt and 
Saudi Arabia, 11 at Syria's request, condemned Transjordan, a 
member of the League, for working against another member- 
state. Abdullah was not deterred; at the end of September he 
issued another statement indicating that he was working actively 
for the plan. This so alarmed Syria that a special session of the 
Syrian Chamber of Deputies was convened on September 29, 
and a warning was issued to Abdullah not to continue his efforts. 
Strong opposition from Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, the efforts of 
the Secretary General of the Arab League, Abdul Rahman al 
Azzam, and of Premier Nuri Said, and the Palestine problem 
which was then confronting the Arab world persuaded Abdullah 
to announce on October 14 that he would refrain from pressing 
for the Greater Syria plan until the Palestine problem was 

British Position 

The British were torn between two forces in determining their 
position on the Greater Syria plan. Their withdrawal from 
Egypt, their announced intention of evacuating Palestine, and 
the unprecedented rise to power and prestige of Ibn Saud, which 
was menacing the British position in the Middle East, made the 
extension of Abdullah's power through realization of the Greater 

n Saudi Arabia threatened that if Abdullah persisted with his Greater 
Syria, she, Saudi Arabia, would raise the Aqaba issue, under the reservation 
in the 1927 Jidda agreement (see above). Syrian newspapers were barred from 
Transjordan and listening to the Damascus radio was punishable by a fine 
of LP100. 


Syria plan highly desirable, if not imperative. At the same time, 
having fathered the Arab League and still hoping to maintain 
themselves in the area through the League, they could not 
encourage Abdullah to go ahead with his plans at the risk of 
undermining the League's as yet shaky existence. They there- 
fore did nothing; they left Abdullah on his own, as far as the 
Greater Syria plan was concerned, and without active British 
support he could hardly progress beyond the talking stage. 

The United Nations approved the partition of Palestine into 
Jewish and Arab states on November 29, 1947; on December 17 
the Arab League Council rejected partition and publicly guaran- 
teed to defeat it. On the 22nd Abdullah declared that the 
Greater Syria plan was the only solution to the Palestine prob- 
lem. Five days later Premier Samir ar Rifai resigned in protest 
against his King's policy, and Tawfiq Abul Huda was recalled 
to head the government. On the very eve of the negotiations 
between Transjordan and Great Britain for a new treaty, and 
on the eve of a new stage of independence, Abdullah was push- 
ing the Greater Syria plan. This time the plan had a new 
importance: it aimed to solve the Palestine problem, and the 
possibilities for extending his powers through the partitioning 
of Palestine as in the Royal Commission proposal again pre- 
sented themselves. 12 

General Developments Since 1941 

No important constitutional developments took place in 
Transjordan until the end of 1946 when the Legislative Council 
approved the new constitution, which was the product of the new 
status achieved through the 1946 treaty with Great Britain. The 
three Premiers who practically alternated during this period 
were Tawfiq Abul Huda, who resigned in October 1944 after 
serving since 1938; Samir ar Rifai Pasha, who remained in office 
from October 1944 to May 18, 1945; his successor, Ibrahim Pasha 
Hashim, who resigned on February 6, 1947, and was followed 
by Samir ar Rifai. Rifai resigned again on December 16, 1947, 
and Tawfiq Abul Huda returned to power. The reasons for the 

12 Esmond Wright, "The 'Greater Syria' Project in Arab Politics/' World 
Affairs, V, 323, July, 1951;-"Abdallah's Jordan: 1947-1951," Middle East Jour- 
nal, V, 443-444, Autumn, 1951; Palestine, A Study of Jewish, Arab and British 
Policies, II, 990-992 et passim. 


resignations and reappointments were never made clear and 
rumors and speculations about them were rife. 

By the end of 1947 Transjordan had consuls in Cairo, Bagdad 
and Damascus. 

The new constitution was officially published on February 1, 
1947 and went into effect two months later. It contained seventy- 
nine articles and was divided into seven parts. The only way it 
differed basically from the Organic Law on the constitutional 
nature of the sovereign was that when Parliament was not in 
session Abdullah could not enact decrees as freely as hereto- 
fore. The constitution provided for two legislative chambers, a 
House of Deputies and a House of Notables, and an extensive 
though still circumscribed, bill of rights; the limitations on 
Parliament, however, were about the same as before. The Cabi- 
net was responsible to the King and not to Parliament; the 
initiative for legislation was with the Cabinet; the House of 
Notables was appointed by the King. 13 

The first parliamentary elections were held on October 20, 
1947; some 40 per cent of the registered male Trans Jordanians 
over eighteen years of age cast their ballots for twenty members 
of the House of Deputies. Only one party, the government- 
sponsored al Nahda (Revival) participated; the opposition 
Arabic Transjordan party was banned and its leaders had fled 
to Damascus, from where they protested against the government 
and its policies, and made their demands: a new constitution to 
be drafted by a freely elected assembly; repudiation of the treaty 
with Great Britain; British troops to leave the country; Abdullah 
to give up his plans for a Greater Syria and instead concentrate 
on the social problems of the Transjordanians. It is more than 
likely that the victory of the government party was the result 
of the electorate's protest against the Arab League's efforts to 
contain Abdullah in his Greater Syria ambitions. 

The new Parliament was opened on November 11, 1947 with 
a speech from the throne read by Premier ar RifaL The House 
of Deputies was composed, as provided by the election law, of 
sixteen Muslims and four Christians; the House of Notables 
consisted of ten members appointed by the King. 

Financially, the country continued along much the same lines 
as before the war, except that because of war exigencies which 

13 Full text of the constitution is in the Official Gazette of the Hashimite 
Kingdom of Transjordan, Feb. 1, 1947. 


brought about an abnormal expansion of the military forces, 
the proportion of the budget which the British Exchequer con- 
tinued to pay became increasingly larger. In 1942/43, for in- 
stance, the total government revenue was 1,692,732, of which 
the British grant-in-aid was 1,245,013; total expenditures were 
1,735,538. Two years later, in 1944/45, total revenue was 
3,351,803; the British grant-in-aid was 2,639,949, and total 
expenditures were 3,363,803. In the fiscal year 1945/46 the 
revenue was 3,393,706, grants-in-aid 2,335,043, and expendi- 
tures 3,454,756. From July 1946 through the financial year 
1947/48 the British government granted Transjordan 3,790,000, 
the average annual contribution was set at 2,000,000 plus spe- 
cial grants for extraordinary projects. 

Economically, imports far exceeded exports. In 1942, imports 
amounted to 1,194,732, and exports to only 744,162. In 1946, 
under the impact of inflation, imports mounted to 6,607,233, 
and exports amounted to 2,044,171. The ratio between imports 
and exports went from below 2 to 1 in 1942, to over 3 to 1 in 
1946. Total imports in 1948 were 11,539,950, and total exports 
2,511,274, a ratio of about 4 to L 

The general export-import structure did not change materi- 
ally, but weather irregularities caused the priority order of 
export to change; the main items were exclusively agricultural 
products. Similarly, the order of imports changed in accordance 
with the stock supply, but imports remained exclusively items 
which an agricultural society could not produce. As in previous 
years, the best purchaser of Transjordanian exports was Pales- 
tine, after which came Syria. 

The number of the population, based on general estimates, 
suddenly began to go up. Until 1938 the Mandatory had re- 
ported a practically stationary population of some 350,000, 
roughly divided into 180,000 settled, 120,000 semi-nomads, arid 
50,000 bedouins. The figure at the end of 1944 was given as 
450,000, based on the number of food rations issued by the gov- 
ernment, yet the International Bank Mission report stated that 
in 1947 the population was 375,000.^ 

14 Transjordan Government, Report by the Financial Adviser on the Fiscal 
Transactions of Trans- Jordan Government For the Year 1943 11944 --For the 
Year 1944 1 1945 ;-For the Year 1945J1946; Konikoff, Transjordan, etc., 95; 
Mackenzie, "Transjordan," Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society 
XXXIII, 261, July, 1946; The Hashimite Kingdom of the Jordan, Ministry of 
Commerce Department of Customs, Trade & Industry, Administrative Re- 



The British military authorities turned over to the newly 
independent state the Aqaba wharf and the adjoining storage 
facilities, on payment of 250,000, while the British government 
granted the Transjordan government an interest-free loan with 
which to pay. The general hope was expressed that Aqaba would 
be developed into an active port through extended facilities and 
good road connections with Amman, and that Transjordan's 
dependence either on Palestine or on Lebanon for the transit 
of goods to and from Transjordan could be eliminated. 15 During 
1946 the Transjordan government granted the Trans-Arabian 
Pipeline Company the right to construct and maintain an oil 
pipeline across its territory; the annual royalty was 40,000. 

In the fields of health and education the country made steady 
progress; more students attended schools, more schools were 
opened, and even a number of bedouins became literate. Both 
government and private hospitals and clinics expanded their 
facilities and services. War demands, combined with normal de- 
mands, resulted in an increase in road kilometrage. At a slow 
pace, and under the guidance of the British, Transjordan 

At the end of two years as an independent sovereign, Abdullah's 
prospects were reasonably good. His Legion, although drastically 
reduced in strength, was the largest and best disciplined mili- 
tary force in the Arab Middle East, and it had seen service all 
over the region. The British continued to finance the Legion 
despite the fact that Transjordan was now independent. Abdul- 
lah's efforts to extend his rule into Syria had met with stubborn 
opposition from some Syrians, and even stronger opposition 
from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but the possibility of expanding 
into Palestine as a result of the United Nations partition resolu- 
tion was good. 

Alec Kirkbride, the British Resident who was now the Min- 
ister, was Abdullah's friend as well as his adviser, and they got 
on well together. The only thing that troubled Abdullah was 
that there might be a war in which he would have to join his 
fellow-Arab states, whom he had never trusted, and in whose 
ability and determination to fight he had no faith. 

port Customs, Excise, Trade & Industry, Calendar Year 1949 (Amman, 1950); 
International Bank Mission, The Economic Development of Jordan (Balti- 
more, 1957), 41; Great Britain, PJ>. f 451, col. 612, May 51, 1948. 

IS The Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan, Ministry of Trade, Annual Report 
. . . Calendar Year 1950} Great Britain, PJD.C., 420, col. 844, Mar. 11, 1946. 

Chapter XIV 


The Proposed Arab State to Transjordan 

cided to give up the mandate over Palestine, withdraw 
its armed forces and not cooperate with the United Na- 
tions in implementing the partition plan, it was tacitly under- 
stood that Abdullah would extend his rule over the proposed 
Arab state with British approval. It must have been clear to 
Abdullah that during the negotiations which were to take place 
in London early in 1948 for a new Anglo-Jordanian treaty, an 
understanding on the occupation of the Arab part of Palestine 
would be worked out. Since, however, Premier Samir ar Rifai 
was not in complete accord with Abdullah's Greater Syria 
scheme, but was more in sympathy with the Arab League's 
unity program, Rifai could not be entrusted with the London 
mission. He therefore tendered his resignation on December 16, 
1947, and Tawfiq Pasha Abul Huda was named Premier. 

The instrument for bringing the proposed Arab state in 
Palestine under Abdullah's wings would be the Arab Legion; 
the Legion units in Palestine were part of the British army, and 
should the Legion stay on when the British forces left, the world 
would look upon this as British defiance of the United Nations 
partition resolution. Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin therefore 
carefully explained to the House of Commons, on December 12, 
1947, that the Arab Legion owed allegiance to the King of Trans- 
Jordan, but that units of it had been serving for some time 
under the orders of the British military command, in accordance 
with the long-standing arrangement with Abdullah. Under the 
circumstances, it was "decided that all these units will be with- 
drawn from Palestine at the same time as the withdrawal of the 
British Forces/' 



The Transjordan delegation that came to London to negotiate 
the new treaty consisted of Premier Tawfiq Pasha Abul Huda, 
Foreign Minister Fawzi al Mulqi, and Brig. John B. Glubb, head 
of the Legion. After the treaty discussions were completed, Bevin, 
Abul Huda and Glubb (the latter said that he was merely act- 
ing as interpreter for the Premier, who spoke no English) met 
on the question of the proposed Arab state of Palestine. Abul 
Huda pointed out to Bevin that when the British withdrew, 
the Jews would immediately establish their state, but since the 
Arabs of Palestine were not as well organized and well prepared 
as the Jews, one of two things could happen to the Arab state; the 
Jews might disregard the United Nations resolution and occupy 
the part assigned to the Arabs, up to the bank of the Jordan; 
or the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husaini, might estab- 
lish himself as head of the new Arab state. Neither prospect was 
desirable either for Great Britain or for Transjordan, The ideal 
solution would be to have the Arab Legion occupy the area 
allotted to the Arabs in the partition plan. Here Glubb, for mili- 
tary reasons, interrupted Abul Huda to point out that the 
Legion could not occupy either the Gaza area or Upper Galilee 
and would have to limit itself to the areas contiguous with 
Transjordan, to which Abul Huda agreed. Bevin's reply to this 
proposal was: "It seems the obvious thing to do, but do not go 
and invade the areas allotted to the Jews/' The Premier ex- 
plained to Bevin that he had brought up the issue in accordance 
with, the Anglo-Transjordan treaty, which provided that the 
contracting parties consult with each other on critical issues. 
Bevin expressed satisfaction and the meeting came to an end. 
The unborn Arab state of Palestine was thus liquidated, through 
agreement between the abdicating Mandatory and the newly 
established sovereign State of Transjordan. 

Abdullah's Reluctance 

Practically up "to the last moment none of the leaders of the 
Arab states, including Abdullah, thought that the Palestine issue 
would be resolved by war. It was believed that the United Na- 
tionsespecially since the British refused to cooperate in imple- 
menting partition would retreat from its position and abandon 





ON -at nLCnMM quemm 

x'^mc-t 7 v~ v I 

United Nations partition plan, November 1947 


the plan. 1 Indeed, the United States tried at almost the last 
moment, perhaps it was even after the last moment, to persuade 
the UN to abandon partition and establish an international 
trusteeship. Abdullah, on the other hand, believed that partition 
would go through but without warfare, and that the Arabs, 
although under protest, would accept the verdict; then, with 
the advance blessings of the British, he would add the Arab 
state to his domains. In fact, Glubb reported: "When the Arab 
Legion originally planned to enter Palestine on the termination 
of the mandate, no war with the Jews had been visualized. It 
was- proposed only to occupy the central and largest area of 
Palestine allotted to the Arabs in the 1947 partition." The Arabs 
were not prepared for the conflict. Moreover, they seem not to 
have realized perhaps because of a lack of previous experience 
or because of wishful thinking what war would mean in terms 
of budget, manpower, ammunition, supplies, planning, coordina- 
tion, and all the other manifold aspects of modern warfare. 
Neither, apparently, could they submerge their personal and 
national ambitions for the overall objective. Glubb explained 
that Iraq, Egypt and Syria had no military experience, but their 
leaders thought in terms of the glorious military achievements 
of Islam in its heyday and saw themselves cast in the role of 
great fighters. They looked down on the Jews as shopkeepers, 
not able and not willing to fight. The Arabs of Palestine were 
tragically misled by the exaggerated confidence of the Arab 
states. The only sober personality in the situation was Abdullah, 
who lived close enough to Palestine to know the Jews, and 
whose Arab Legion had had some military experience and was 
capable of appreciating the full scope and meaning of warfare. 
Abdullah firmly advised against exaggerated self-confidence and 
rash decisions; he held out for a possible peaceful solution with 
the Jews rather than risk war. Glubb explained: "One of the 
major causes of the Arab failure in 1948 was their unwillingness 
to face facts. Not only did they neglect to study the potential 
military strength of both sides, but they accused of treachery 
any man with a courage to speak the unpalatable truth." 
Abdullah, said Glubb, "deprecated the idea of fighting and was 

l As late as May 14 it was reported that the Secretary General of the Arab 
League, Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, admitted that he had never expected 
that the Arab states would actually have to fight. George Kirk, Survey of 
International Affairs. The Middle East, 1945-1950 (London, 1954), 270. 


immediately covered with bitter reproaches, and charged with 
treachery in the most opprobrious terms." Abdullah himself 
declared: "My conclusion from all this is that the Arabs must 
give up day-dreaming and apply themselves to realities. 2 

Preparation for War 

Disregarding Abdullah's practical advice, the Arab states de- 
cided to oppose the partition plan by force. The moving spirits 
in this decision were the Mufti of Jerusalem, and Abdul Rahman 
Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, who was 
the spokesman for the Syro-Egyptian-Saudi anti-Abdullah bloc. 
On February 9, 1948 the Council of the Arab League resolved 
that all League members exert every effort to prevent the estab- 
lishment of the Jewish state. 3 

To make sure that no member would utilize the Palestine 
situation for its own advantage, the League, meeting in Beirut, 
decided that member-states should send their armies into Pales- 
tine, that no member should aim at territorial self-aggrandize- 
ment, but should work to save Palestine from Zionism and 
restore it to the Arab people. 4 About ten days later, as the 
British evacuation date neared, an emergency consultation took 
place in Amman between King Abdullah, the Regent of Iraq, 
and the other Arab states on coordinating military movements. 
No agreement could be reached on the selection of a com- 
mander in chief for all the Arab armies; it is very doubtful 
whether the Arab leaders appreciated the cardinal need for a 
supreme commander, not as an honor to the person so desig- 

2 Great Britain, PJ).C., 445, col. 1392, Dec. 12, 1947; Glubb, A Soldier with 
the Arabs, 77-79, 96; Abdullah, My Memoirs Completed, 50. 

3 A sensational development arose late in February when it was reported at 
Lake Success that Omar Dijani, Transjordan's agent at the UN, had offered a 
scheme to the U.S., in Abdullah's name, whereby the partition plan would be 
effectuated with Abdullah's assistance in return for American recognition of 
Transjordan. Dijani was later repudiated by the Transjordan government, 
but the affair had all the earmarks of an authentic attempt. 

4 Abdullah somehow still felt that a war might be avoided, and the clandes- 
tine meeting with Mrs. Golda Myerson of the Political Department of the 
Jewish Agency he is reported to have held would indicate his hope of avert- 
ing a bloody conflict. The reason these negotiations railed was very likely not, 
as has been reported, the impossible demands made by the Jews, but the 
increasing pressure of the Arab League leaders on Abdullah to prevent him 
from coming to terms with the Jews, and the British government's reluctance 
to permit Abdullah to defy the League by doing so. Kirk, The Middle East 
1945-1950, 270-271; O'Ballahce, The Arab-Israeli War 1948, 78-79. 


nated, but as a sine qua non for a successful military operation. 
Even as late as May 15 the League's military Committee failed 
to agree on a commander; Abdullah then became the com- 
mander in chief, at his own initiative and request and because 
there was no one else, but for all intents and purposes in name 
only. 5 

Meanwhile, as early as December 1947 Arab irregulars in 
Palestine, reinforced by organized groups which the Mufti of 
Jerusalem, then in Damascus working with the Syrian govern- 
ment, sent from Syria, began a campaign of terror against the 
Jews. The latter, through their Haganah, resisted and retaliated. 
The British announced a policy of neutrality and proceeded to 
turn over sections of the country to the Arabs and Jews. In the 
middle of January 1948, in spite of British diplomatic protests 
to the Syrian government, Arab bands trained and equipped by 
that government and commanded by Syrian army officers, en- 
tered Palestine and fought the Jews, The most outstanding of 
the officers was Fawzi Qawuqji, who proclaimed himself the 
ruler of Western Palestine. Tension between the Jews and Arabs 
rose to fever pitch, while the British abdicated their responsi- 
bility for law and order in ever greater sections of the country, 
in preparation for their complete withdrawal. 

During April the Palestine Arab irregulars, now reinforced 
by Syrians, Iraqis and Egyptians, and organized into the Arab 
Liberation Army commanded by Qawuqji, carried on an unde- 
clared war; the Arab League thought at first that this army, 
under the influence of the Mufti, would be enough to defeat 
the Jews and thwart the efforts of Abdullah. When it became 
quite obvious that the Liberation Army was ineffective, it was 
decided that after May 15 the regular armies of the Arab League 
member-states would march into Palestine. The areas of opera- 
tion were divided among the various countries: Lebanon and 
Syria, the north and northeast; Iraq and Transjordan in the 
east; Egypt in the south. But even after Abdullah had been 
tacitly accepted as commander in chief, there had been no joint 
planning of any kind, no reports were ever given to the supreme 
commander, and he gave no orders. He did not receive any 
perverted concept of the magnitude and ramifications of war 

5 Glubb later speculated that Abdullah's opponents had agreed to this so 
that if the war failed they could blame him for it. A Soldier with the Arabs, 


That the Arab leaders who were to conduct the war had a 
perverted concept of the magnitude and ramifications of a war 
is illustrated by the following episode, which Glubb reported. 
Both the head of the Arab Legion and his commander in chief, 
the King, opposed the war, but 

"As soon as it became obvious that fighting would be inevitable, 
I called on Taufiq Pasha, to ask what financial arrangements the 
Trans- Jordan Government proposed to make to pay for the war. 
... To my amazement the Prime Minister replied that no addi- 
tional sums could be made available. 

" 'You have your budget allotment for the Arab Legion/ he 
said, 'You will have to make the most of that.' 

" 'But Sir/ I replied, 'it is not possible to fight a war on a 
no-cost basis. The money allotted to pay for an army in peace- 
time cannot possibly be enough for a war ... it just cannot be 
done without money.' 

" 'The people who insist on making this war had better pay for 
it/ said Taufiq Pasha bitterly. He did not specify to whom he 
was referring. My protests were to no avail. 

" 'It is not that I have the money and refuse to give it to you/ 
he said. 'The money does not exist. The Trans-Jordan Govern- 
ment has no reserve funds.' 

"I was defeated. I came away perplexed and anxious. What 
was to be done? The Trans- Jordan Government was ordering me 
to engage in military operations with no money. It simply was 
not possible." 

What Glubb did not mention was the fact that whatever the 
Arab Legion budget allotment was, even for peacetime, came 
from Great Britain and was not the contribution of the Trans- 
jordan government. 

To what extent did the Secretary General of the Arab League 
fully understand the implications of the conduct of a war? Two 
days before the Mandate expired, a meeting of Arab leaders 
took place in Amman. Azzam Pasha asked Glubb a few days 
later about the strength of the Arab Legion. On being told 
that it was about 4,500, all ranks, he expressed disappointment 
and asked for Glubb's estimate of the Jewish forces. These 
Glubb put at about 65,000. Azzam Pasha showed great surprise 
and said he had no idea there were so many. "However," he 
said, "I expect it will be all right. I have arranged to get up 
700 men from Libya." Glubb, shocked at this small number, 


asked how they were armed. Replied Azzam: "I have sent a man 
to buy 700 rifles from Italy."* 

The sense of cooperation between the various Arab armies, what 
they thought of the role of commander in chief, as well as their 
understanding of war operations can be gathered from an eye- 
witness account of an Arab war council meeting called to con- 
sider the danger to the Old City of Jerusalem. Nuqrashi Pasha 
of Egypt, Jamil Mardam of Syria, Fadil Jamali of Iraq, Riad as 
Sulh of Lebanon, and Tawfiq Abul Huda of Transjordan par- 
ticipated. The initial meeting was under the chairmanship of 
King Abdullah who, in his capacity as commander in chief, gave 
an authoritative account of the military position to the extent 
that he knew it. Abdullah drew a gloomy picture of the situa- 
tion and asked his fellow-Arabs to consider urgently ways of 
bolstering his forces or of removing the pressure from the Arab 
Legion in Jerusalem. With the exception of Nuqrashi Pasha, 
the Premier of Egypt, the visitors "hastened to produce the 
usual cliches about the sacred task to the successful conclusion 
of which no Arab would hesitate to give his life and future, 
etc." Abdullah was disturbed by the silence of the Egyptian 
Premier and asked him if he were feeling well. Nuqrashi replied 
that he was perfectly well but that he had come to listen and 
not to talk. Abdullah assured him that he would have plenty to 
listen to! He told him that the Egyptian government's action 
in seizing at Suez a consignment of artillery ammunition des- 
tined for Jordan, of which the Arab Legion was in desperate 
need, was not the sort of treatment one normally expected from 
an ally. 

When King Abdullah withdrew and the Transjordan Premier 
took over, the meeting began to consider ways to assist the Arab 
Legion forces in Jerusalem. Abul Huda asked the head of the 
Egyptian delegation whether it would not be possible for the 
Egyptian forces, which were within a few miles of Jerusalem, 
to stage an attack in order to draw some of the pressure off the 
Legion. Abul Huda remarked that as far as he knew the Egyptian 
troops were not then engaged in any fighting and were numeri- 
cally much stronger than the Arab Legion. The Egyptian mili- 
tary adviser exclaimed with horror: "Good God no, we cannot 
attack; the Jews might attack us in turn!' 1 Nuqrashi Pasha then 

6 Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs, 82-84. 


delivered a long speech about his. devotion to the Arab cause, 
but declared that this must always be subject to his duty to his 
own beloved country and people. The Egyptian army was not 
going to do anything which might draw down upon it the atten- 
tion of the Israeli forces. 

Jamil Mardam then rose. Dramatically he declared: "Gentle- 
men, I have an important announcement to make. We Syrians 
cannot stand by and see the city, holy to both Muslims and 
Christians, fall into the hands of the Zionists. Therefore, despite 
the practical difficulties and the material sacrifices involved, we 
are prepared to send immediately a whole infantry division to 
fight on the battlements of Jerusalem." Loud cheers and ap- 
plause broke out, although everyone there knew perfectly well 
that the only infantry division that Syria possessed that was 
capable of taking the field was already fully committed in the 
fighting in Galilee. Nevertheless, the representative of the Arab 
Legion asked when the Syrian troops might be expected, and 
the Syrian Premier's reply was: "In a matter of a few days, my 
dear, if God wills." Jerusalem was dismissed as saved, and the 
talk turned to more pleasant matters, such as the final offensive 
which was to sweep the Jews into the sea, and how Jewish prop- 
erty would be divided among the Arab governments that had 
sent armies. 

The British Minister to Jordan who recorded the events of 
this meeting concluded: "The Syrian infantry division never, of 
course, materialized. The Egyptian army stayed where it was 
until, shortly afterward, it was attacked by the Israelis with 
disastrous results to the Arab cause. King Abdullah continued to 
be a Commander in Chief from whom no one accepted orders. 
The Arab Press wrote with pride and pleasure of the historical 
meeting at which the leaders of the sister Arab countries re- 
affirmed their unshakeable determination to carry on the strug- 
gle against the aggressors, regardless of the sacrifices involved, 
and took decisions of wide importance, the effects of which 
would be evident shortly and lead to the victory on which all 
had set their hearts." 7 

The Legion's Status 

To return to the Legion. Until May 15, 1948 when its units 
7 Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, 159-163. 


in Palestine returned to Transjordan, they were part of the 
British armed forces. Yet even before that date the Legion 
committed two acts that must be considered clear violations of 
international law, as well as defiance of the United Nations 
resolution, not on the part of Transjordan, but on the part of 
the British government, under whose authority the Legion func- 
tioned in Palestine. 

The first act took place at the Iraqi consulate in the Katamon 
section of Jerusalem in April. When the situation deteriorated, 
the consulate called on the Transjordan government to station 
guards around its building. Glubb, as the head of the Legion, 
was ordered to send a detachment forthwith, with which order 
he promptly complied. The British did not stop the order. 

The second occurred in the Etzion area. Some twelve miles 
southwest of Jerusalem, on the road to Hebron, were four Jewish 
settlements, the largest one of which was Kfar Etzion hence the 
four were called the Etzion bloc. They were located in an area 
overwhelmingly Arab and in the partition plan they were in- 
cluded in the proposed Arab state. Since the settlements were 
isolated, they were the first object of Arab attack when the gen- 
eral security situation became bad. They put up considerable 
resistance and the local Arabs were not able to overrun them. 

The Arab Legion, according to Glubb, had a garrison com- 
pany in Gaza and Rafah; its line of communication was through 
Beersheba and Hebron to Jerusalem, and from there to Amman. 
The Legion was drawing supplies from the British Suez Canal 
zone, and Arab Legion traffic up and down the Hebron- Jerusa- 
lem road was considerable. The Mandate was running out, and 
the British requested the Legion to draw a quantity of stores 
and vehicles from Egypt. The Legion decided to reduce the 
Etzion bloc in anticipation of possible interference with its traf- 
fic On May 13, two days before the Mandate ended, the Legion 
destroyed the bloc. 

The Legion Enters the War 

In spite of these acts, London insisted on the formality that 
the Legion units return to Transjordan before they came back 
to fight and to occupy parts of the proposed Arab state. Accord- 
ing to Glubb, by the end of April the greater part of the 
mechanized regiments had crossed the Jordan and were en- 


camped near Zarqa. The infantry garrison companies remained 
until the last few days, and those on guard duty withdrew only 
a few hours before the end. By the 15th of May all units except 
part of a company cut off near Hebron, and a few men in 
Ramallah, were back on the eastern side of the Jordan; they 
immediately about-faced and began the trek back. 

Was the Legion ready for battle? By all standards of compari- 
son, and even by admission of the military leaders of the other 
Arab countries, it was the best army the Arabs had. But was it 
self-sufficient and able to maintain an independent campaign? 
Its head recognized that it had the following basic shortcomings. 
All the commanding officers were British, and the Legion's 
strength depended on British financing. The 1948 budget pro- 
vided for 6,000 men of all ranks apart from the civil police; 
of these, about 4,500 were available for operations in Palestine. 
Moreover, according to the Legion's head, it had no "services" 
of its own. From 1941 to 1948 the force had grown from 1,350 to 
8,000 in 1945 and back to 6,000 in 1948, but it had been entirely 
rationed by the British army, and medical services, except for 
unit medical officers had also been the responsibility of the Brit- 
ish army. Workshop and ordnance services had been maintained 
by the British. Then, suddenly, on May 15, the Legion was 
called upon to supply its own services. It had no systematic 
reserve, all its men being under long-term contract, and after 
their term was over they had no obligation to be ready for 
reserve duty. Ammunition had been supplied by the British as 
needed, and none was kept in reserve stock. These were the 
handicaps with which the Legion entered the field. 

Although Glubb constantly reported that both the size and 
equipment of the army of the Jews were formidable, the reality 
was that the Jewish side entered the battle with even more seri- 
ouse handicaps than the Arabs. Their forces were not profes- 
sionally-trained soldiers. They lacked arms and ammunition, and 
transportation facilities. They did not even have a well-organ- 
ized overall government control. Their major assets were con- 
viction of purpose, determination of efforts, an inner discipline, 
and a sense of unity. 

The disorganization of the Arabs may be judged by the follow- 
ing incident. Since the Legion was supplied by the British 
methodically and apparently as a matter of policy with a very 
limited amount of ammunition, when Glubb was ordered to 


fight he asked the British Commander-in-Chief Middle East to 
dispatch immediately to Aqaba a shipment of a specified type 
of ammunition. The British commander, in Glubb's words, 
"rose to the occasion" and dispatched the ship with the ammuni- 
tion, but before it left the Gulf of Suez an Egyptian launch 
overtook it and brought it back to port. A convoy of armed 
Egyptian trucks was lined up on the quay; the ammunition was 
loaded into them and carried away. Abdullah later tried to re- 
cover the ammunition or its cost, but the Egyptians simply 
ignored the request. 8 

The decisive hour in Palestine was approaching. The United 
Nations reconvened in a second special session for the "further 
consideration of the question of the future government of 
Palestine" because, according to the United States, the partition 
plan could not be implemented by peaceful means. All the spe- 
cial session produced at the very moment partition was actually 
taking place was a recommendation to appoint a United Na- 
tions Mediator whose functions were limited and who was 
granted no effective powers. 

The Battles 

In Palestine fighting broke out. The Arab Legion fought three 
major battles: the battle for Jerusalem; the battle of Latrun and 
Bab al Wad; and the battle for Lydda-Ramle. The struggle 
for Jerusalem began with a battle for the Old City, and then the 
Legion tried to take the New City. The defense of Jewish Jeru- 
salem, which was cut off from the rest of the country, became a 
very serious task for the newly formed Israel government. From 
a purely military point of view, the Old City should not have 
been defended. As a matter of fact, in view of the shortage of 
manpower and ammunition, it was almost suicidal. Jerusalem's 
symbolic importance, however, partly outweighed the military 
considerations and the battle was locked, though with a certain 
economy in order not to squander the military forces. The pres- 
sure the Israelis put on the Legion was much greater than they 

8 GJufab, A Soldier with the Arabs, 91; Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, 161: 
Great Britain, PJD.C., 447, col. 224 > Feb. 18, 1948; O'Ballance, The Arab- 
Israeli War 1948, 80. This is the incident to which Abdullah referred (see 


themselves suspected; Abdullah's desperate efforts to save the 
city were revealed later on. 9 

Militarily the Legion fought bravely; at Shaikh Jarrah, a sec- 
tion of the New City on the way to the Hebrew University- 
Hadassah Hospital, it attacked and prevented a breakthrough 
which would have endangered the Legion's entire northern 
position. The Jewish units at that point lacked defensive tena- 
city and could not hold their position under the fire of the 
Legion. On the other hand, the Legion's attempt to break 
through the Israeli lines at the Notre Dame hospital and flank 
the Jewish position must be considered a failure. Had it suc- 
ceeded, the Jewish position in Jerusalem would have been 

To relieve Jerusalem, the Jewish forces had to get the Arab 
Legion out of the police fortress and the Trappist monastery at 
Latrun. Latrun controlled the Bab al Wad defile at the Judean 
foothills, through which ran the only road to Jerusalem, and 
at Latrun was located the pumping station that supplied water 
to the city. The battle of Bab al Wad for the control of Latrun 
was one of the costliest for the Israelis; they were on a frontal 
offensive, while the Legion was entrenched in the police fortress 
and monastery. Once again the Legion displayed its fighting 
ability, for which the Israelis had developed a healthy respect 
and great admiration. Apparently giving up the attempt to take 
Latrun, the Israelis built an alternative route, the so-called 
"Burma Road," on which supplies for the beleaguered city were 
transported. Although the Legion took the Old City, it failed 
to take the New City. 

First Truce 

Since the Arab states had marched into Palestine with their 
armies, they had violated the United Nations resolution. The 
Security Council was convened on May 18 to consider a resolu- 
tion submitted by the United States ordering the belligerents 

9 On the outcome of the battle for the Old City, the British Minister to 
Transjordan remarked: "It was lucky perhaps that, about this time, the 
Israelis apparently decided that they could not afford the heavy casualties 
which their attacks on Jerusalem were causing to their army and diverted 
their offensive to other parts of the front/* Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, 


to stop firing within thirty-six hours. The United States main- 
tained that from the statements made by the Arab representa- 
tives, it was obvious that there was a threat to peace and a breach 
of peace, and therefore the issue was the responsibility of the 
Security Council. 

To enable the Council to arrive at a decision, Ambassador 
Warren Austin suggested that a questionnaire asking for informa- 
tion about the situation be sent to the Arab governments, to the 
provisional government of Israel, and to the Arab Higher Com- 
mittee. The British representative, Sir Alexander Cadogan, raised 
a number of objections to the proposed resolution. He took 
exception to the basic assumption underlying the resolution; he 
tried to remove from the Arabs the stigma in the charge that they 
were endangering peace by their acts in Palestine. In their 
replies to the questionnaire all the Arab countries admitted that 
their armies were in Palestine, but they claimed they were there 
to restore order, which had broken down after the withdrawal of 
the British, and that they had gone into Palestine at the invita- 
tion of the Palestine Arabs to fight Zionist and terrorist groups. 10 

Appealing to the Security Council to adopt the resolution, 
Ambassador Austin pleaded for the termination of the war; he 
emphasized that the very replies of the Arab states indicated 
that they were making war on Palestine. Referrring to Abdul- 
lah's refusal to supply any information, Ambassador Austin said: 
"The contumacy of the reply to the Security Council is the very 
best evidence of the illegal purpose of this Government in invad- 
ing Palestine with armed forces and conducting the war that it 
is conducting there. It is against the peace; it is not on behalf of 
peace. It is an invasion for a purpose." The United States reso- 
lution received only five votes and was defeated. On May 22 the 

10 Transjordan's reply to the questionnaire revealed Abdullah's state of 
mind and his anger at the U.S. "I wish to draw your attention to the fact that 
the Government of the United States of America, the author of the proposi- 
tion of addressing the questions about which you informed me, has not yet 
recognized the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, de- 
spite the fact that for two years it has been in a position to meet all the 
required conditions for such recognition; yet the Government of the United 
States of America recognized the so-called Jewish Government within a few 
hours, although the factors for this recognition were lacking. 

"I also would like to point out that the Security Council refused more than 
once to recommend to the General Assembly the admission of the Transjordan 
Government to the United Nations. 

"Therefore, my Government does not feel that there is room for reply to 
the questions addressed to it." 


Council adopted, 9 to 2, a modfied resolution proposed by Great 
Britain. It made no reference to a threat to peace and contained 
no sanctions threat; it called for a cease-fire to become effective 
in thirty-six hours. Within two days Israel notified the Council 
that she accepted the call; the Arab states asked for an extension 
of the time limit because of communications difficulties between 
the seven members of the Arab League. The request was granted, 
but when the time expired the Arabs rejected the call for a cease- 
fire. On the 29th the Security Council adopted a new cease-fire 
resolution submitted by Great Britain, considerably watered 
down, which aimed to meet some of the Arab objections to the 
previous resolution. It did, however, contain a provision that if 
it should be rejected, action might be considered under the 
threat-of-peace provisions of the United Nations Charter, with 
possible sanctions. Acceptance was called for by 6 P.M. June I, 
New York time. 

The Israel government issued an order to its troops to stop 
firing as of 3 A.M., June 2, Israel time, provided the Arabs did 
likewise. The Political Committee of the Arab League, meeting 
in Amman, notified the Security Council that its member-states 
had accepted the call for a cease-fire and that as soon as the 
Council of the League determined the time, the order would be 
given to the respective armies. 

On May 28, Count Folke Bernadotte, the Mediator who was 
selected by the five permanent members of the Security Council, 
arrived in the Middle East and attempted to bring about the 
cease-fire. It finally went into effect, after prolonged negotiations, 
on June 11, and the Mediator informed the Security Council 
that both sides had accepted his proposal for a four-week truce. 
The British, meantime, were being challenged at home and by 
critics in the United States for supplying arms and ammunition 
to the Arab Legion, for permitting British officers to conduct the 
war, and for financing the Legion's existence. 

In reply to the criticisms, Sir Alexander Cadogan declared at 
United Nations headquarters on May 27 that no British officer 
was taking part in the fighting in Jerusalem; that immediate 
steps were being taken to ensure that those officers seconded to 
the Legion from the British forces should not serve in Palestine; 
that payment of the next installment of the subsidy to Trans- 
jordan, due on July 2, would be reviewed in the light of the UN 
decisions. The supply of arms and ammunition was a treaty 


obligation, orders for which had been received long before the 
present fighting began. 

In the House of Commons on the same day Foreign Secretary 
Bevin reported that thirty-seven British officers were serving with 
the Arab Legion. Three of these were seconded from the service 
of the government of Palestine; with the termination of the Man- 
date they had offered to terminate their connection with the 
colonial services. Thirteen were civilians under contract to the 
Transjordan government; the remainder, on secondment from 
the British forces, came under the provisions of the Anglo-Tor- 
danian treaty by which the British government bound itself to 
provide on request any British service personnel whose services 
were required to ensure the efficiency of the Transjordan army. 
The British government would consider itself released from this 
obligation only if its fulfillment became inconsistent with British 
obligations to the United Nations. 11 

Following the adoption of the second cease-fire resolution on 
May 29, the British government issued orders that all British 
army officers seconded to Transjordan were to leave their com- 
mands immediately and withdraw from battle. However, as to 
condemning Transjordan for its violation of the United Nations 
resolution, Foreign Secretary Bevin noted in the House of Com- 
mons that the Arab Legion had intervened "in territory which 
the United Nations allocated to the Arabs/' not in territory 
allocated to "a proposed Jewish state/' 12 

The experience of the first three weeks of fighting was sober- 
ing. The head of the Legion reported that after June 1 the Arab 
advance had generally stopped, ammunition was running very 
low, and the Legion, suffering twenty per cent casualties, was 
spread over a seventy-mile front. The withdrawal of the British 
officers was a shattering blow. "They included all operational 
staff officers, both the brigade commanders, and the commanding 
officers of three out of the four infantry regiments, and all trained 
artillery officers. The artillery having only been raised three 
months before, none of the Jordanian officers were yet really com- 

11 Great Britain, P.D.C., 451, col. 187, May 26, 1948;-col. 612, May 31, 1948. 
Glubb himself chose to leave the colonial service and serve with the Arab 
Legion. What was not reported either by Count Bernadotte or Sir Alexander 
Cadogan or Glubb Pasha was the fact that on May 14, 1948, besides the 37 
British officers, about 190 non-commissioned officers were serving in the Arab 
Legion, most of them seconded from the British forces. M. Perlmann, "The 
Middle East-Review of Events," Palestine Affairs, III, 77n., June, 1948. 

12 Great Britain, FJD.C., 451, cols. 999-1000, June 4, 1948. 


patent to direct the fire of the guns." The Legion also had a 
manpower problem; the garrison companies who, up to that time 
had only been on guard duty, were being slowly absorbed into 
the mechanized regiments; recruiting continued and a number 
of men from the disbanded Transjordan Frontier Force enlisted. 
After the cease-fire went into effect, unrest developed within 
Transjordan and several Legion units had to be drawn back 
across the Jordan for internal security purposes. 

Yet ven with things as they were, the position of Transjordan 
was better than that of any other Arab state, and there was dis- 
satisfaction about Abdullah's advantageous position. The Mufti 
succeeded in lining up Abdullah's opponents in the League and 
they began to intrigue against him. With the month's truce fast 
running out, Abdullah became apprehensive about the future; 
should his fellow-Arabs not help him, and the British not pay 
the subsidy due in July, he would be in a very precarious posi- 
tion. He therefore undertook the distasteful task of visiting his 
chief enemies in an effort to persuade them to help him. On 
July 22 he went to Cairo to see King Faruq, and while there he 
had an interview with the Mufti of Jerusalem. On the 27th he 
visited his dynastic arch-enemy, Ibn Saud, in Riad. To judge 
from his own reactions, he accomplished very little. "I may say 
that I foreot my enmity, disregarded my feelings, and paid visits 
to Al Riyad and Cairo, but I do not believe that my journey to 
Najd produced any results." 13 

Annexation Hopes 

The future of Palestine naturally came up at the various meet- 
ings of the Arab leaders in May and June, but Abdullah always 
managed to evade a direct answer, and he did not reveal his real 
intents. When he returned from Riad, however, Count Berna- 
dotte, the Mediator, raised the issue for Abdullah. After achiev- 
ing the cease-fire, the Mediator set up headquarters on the island 
of Rhodes and invited the governments of the Arab countries 
and Israel to send technical experts to consult with him in work- 
ing out a permanent solution. On July 28 he presented a plan, 
the major features of which were: an economic union between 
the Jewish and Arab states; the Arab state to include, in addition 

13 Abdullah, My Memoirs Completed, 41; O'Ballance, The Arab-Israeli War 
1948, 135. 


to the territory allotted to it in the 1947 partition resolution, the 
entire Negev and the Jerusalem area; the Jewish state to have 
western Galilee; the Arab state to be united with Transjordan. 
The first reaction of Israel was negative, and the same was true 
of the Arab governments; however, the plan appealed greatly to 
the British government and this raised Abdullah's hopes. On 
July 1 he journeyed to Bagdad to consult with the Regent of Iraq 
both as to the fate of the truce and the Mediator's plan. 

The truce was due to expire on June 9 and the Mediator 
began to work for its extension. He appealed to both sides for 
a thirty-day extension. Israel agreed; the Arabs refused. On 
July 5 he appealed to the Security Council to call on both sides 
to agree to the extension, and two days later the Council adopted 
a resolution to that effect. Again Israel indicated willingness to 
comply, but Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, 
announced at the conclusion of a meeting of the League's Polit- 
ical Committee that there would be no extension of the truce. 
On July 9, Bernadotte appealed to both sides once more, this 
time for a ten-day extension; Israel replied that she would accept. 

Second Truce 

Meanwhile, on July 8, Egyptian forces resumed hostilities, 
and on the 9th Palestine was again at war. The United States 
submitted a resolution in the Security Council calling for a gen- 
eral cease-fire under threat of sanctions, and especially calling 
for an unconditional cease-fire in Jerusalem. The resolution, 
which gave the Mediator extraordinary powers, was adopted on 
July 15 by a 7-1 vote. Israel immediately indicated that she would 
accept both provisions, for Jerusalem, and for all of Palestine; 
Abdullah accepted the truce for Jerusalem; finally, all the other 
Arab countries accepted, the second truce became effective, and 
the ten days' war, July 9-18, came to a close. 

The British delegation assured the Arab states that the resolu- 
tion in no way affected the basic issues involved. Diplomatic as 
the British tried to be, the fact remained that Britain had voted 
for the resolution. Moreover, the Arab Legion's subsidy was held 
up until Abdullah had agreed to the truce. The acceptance of 
the truce on June 11 came as a shocking surprise to all the Arab 
countries, including Transjordan. Such glorious reports had been 
pouring from the Arab press, the official war communiques and 


the radios of the various Arab countries about the achievements 
of Arab arms that it was only a matter of days before the Jews 
would be disastrously defeated and Tel Aviv would fall. Then 
suddenly word came through of a truce. The disappointment 
aggravated the tension between the leaders in the League. 

There can be no doubt that the truce was as helpful to the 
Arabs as the Arabs said it was helpful to the Jews; their ammu- 
nition was practically exhausted, their manpower was seriously 
weakened, and they desperately needed time for reappraising the 
situation and reorganizing their plans. Abdullah was confirmed 
in his conviction that Israel was a force to be reckoned with and 
was not to be dismissed as something to be pushed into the sea. 
He became more convinced than ever that there was no future 
for the proposed Arab state except by unification with some 
neighboring Arab state, and that state could only be Transjordan. 
While his opponents had been willing not to press too hard for 
an ultimate decision during the first three weeks of fighting and 
were satisfied with the League's resolution, after the truce they 
were determined not to permit Abdullah to achieve his goal. 
They knew from his visits to Faruq and Ibn Saud and hk inter- 
view with the Mufti of Jerusalem that he was bent on annexing 
Arab Palestine, they blamed him for the truce, and refused to 
extend the second truce. After the resumption of hostilities they 
announced the formation of an administrative council for Pales- 
tine under the chairmanship of Ahmad Hilmi Pasha, treasurer 
of the Arab Higher Committee, and with Jamal Husaini, the 
Mufti's cousin and lieutenant, in charge of internal security. 

The Lydda-Ramle Battle 

One of the great assets of the Arab Legion were its British 
commanders, especially Glubb Pasha, its head. Although it was 
thoroughly devoted to the Arab cause, the Legion, unlike the 
other Arab armies, had to reckon with the military realities and 
its commanders could not always permit their emotion to over- 
come the cold facts of logic. From a purely military point of 
view particularly since Glubb's estimate of the Israeli military 
strength had been exaggerated it would have been better to 
concentrate the Legion's units in a number of strong points 
which the Israelis could not overcome, rather than to extend the 
lines too thinly along the flanks. 


A case in point was the Lydda-Ramle salient. This area was 
included in the projected Arab state, and therefore Transjordan, 
in accordance with the understanding with Bevin, was entitled 
to occupy it, but it was too far away from the home base, too 
close to the main Israeli concentration, and would require too 
many forces to protect it. Nonetheless, in the first flush of the 
war a section of the Legion was sent into the area. The Israelis 
on their part, recognizing the danger from the Legion's forces 
stationed so close to Tel Aviv and the possibility of a break- 
through to the sea, cutting the country in two, decided that the 
Legion must be dislodged from the Ramle-Lydda salient for the 
sake of that area itself as well as for the relief of Jerusalem, which 
got its water from the pipeline and pumping station running 
through Latrun. 

The truce came into effect on June 1L Further military action 
was now impossible, so the Transjordanians could hold the 
salient without danger of being attacked. Glubb maintained that 
he had counseled both Abdullah and Premier Tawfiq Abul Huda 
that Lydda and Ramie could not be defended and that in a 
critical hour it would have to be given up. The critical hour came 
with the renewal of hostilities on July 9. On the following day 
Israeli forces moved in from the north and from the south and 
surrounded the area; on the 12th it fell into Israeli hands, 
although Latrun remained in the Legion's possession. If Latrun 
had been lost to the Israelis, the road to Jerusalem and the road 
to Ramallah would have been opened and the entire Transjor- 
danian position around Jerusalem would have been critically 

The consequences of the fall of Lydda and Ramie were serious 
for Abdullah, and perhaps even more so for Glubb. The defeat 
was blamed on the Legion and especially on Glubb; in many 
towns of Transjordan the Legionaries were greeted with cries 
of "traitor." According to Glubb, some of the men and officers 
were stoned and spat upon by the people of Palestine and 
he himself was accused of intentionally bringing about the 
Legion's defeat in order to force the Arabs to accept the truce, 
as requested by the British government, since he was a British 
officer complying with secret British orders. The Arabs believed 
that the Legion could have easily defended Ramie and Lydda. 


Glubb's Humiliation 

The Security Council, meanwhile, was demanding a cease-fire, 
which the Arabs were still unwilling to accept. Glubb took the 
initiative; he sent a note to Transjordan's Premier pointing out 
that the Arab armies had been defeated all along the line, and 
he urged the advisability of agreeing to a new truce. While the 
Arab Legion was not in a critical situation, since it was never 
planned that it should hold Lydda and Ramie, as the Premier 
well knew, and it could hold back the Israeli attacks on the 
Transjordan front, the other Arab armies, according to informa- 
tion he had received, would meet with disaster. 

Two hours after his note was delivered, Glubb was summoned 
to the Palace. There he found the entire Cabinet in session. The 
Premier read Glubb's letter aloud, with sarcastic side remarks 
and with growing rage. Even Abdullah had weakened, reported 
Glubb. "The King was looking grim. For the first and only time 
in the long years during which I served him he also doubted me. 
He turned and looked at me gloweringly. If you don't want to 
serve us loyally, there is no need for you to stay/ he said." 14 

Abdullah's opponents in the Arab League now had new fuel 
for an anti-Abdullah campaign; he had betrayed the Arabs of 
Palestine by surrendering Lydda and Ramie to the Israelis. At 
home his position became precarious, for the British had with- 
held the subsidy. Egypt was agitating against acceptance of the 
cease-fire, but on July 19 it was accepted and became effective. 

14 Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs, 156-166. Glubb's evaluation of the Pre- 
mier is revealing. "He was the best Premier Jordan produced. His mind was 
clear and he had a firm grasp of essentials for the peace and security of the 
country. He almost alone of Jordanian Prime Ministers, had firmness and a 
certain quality of moral courage. . . . From my point of view he had the dis- 
advantage that, when he made a mistake, he always placed the blame on his 
subordinates. In 1948, he had agreed that we could not defend Lydda and 
Ramie, but when they fell he had passed on the blame to the Arab Legion 
and myself. He himself checked every word of the Rhodes Armistice Agree- 
ment before authorizing its signature. When, however, there was a public 
outcry, he professed to have known nothing about the terms and suggested 
that the Arab Legion had acted alone perhaps on orders received by me from 
London" (356). O'Ballance, The Arab-Israeli War 1948, 144-147; M. Dayan, 
"The Commando Battalion" (Hebrew), Maarakhot, 34-40, July, 1950; I. Baer, 
"Latrun Battles" (Hebrew), Maarakhot, 7-94, Nov., 1955. 


Ten Days of Hostilities 

If for the Israelis the net result of the ten days of hostilities 
was some 650 square kilometers of territory, including the towns 
of Lydda, Ramie, Ras al Ein, Nazareth, and many villages, the 
loss to the Arabs was more than territorial. It divided the leaders 
of the Arab League; discord and mutual recrimination were the 
order of the day. Abdullah, however, was assured of the contin- 
uation of the British subsidy, which was finally paid on July 28. 

While the truce prevailed generally throughout the country, 
it was constantly being broken in Jerusalem, and the Mediator 
pressed for the demilitarization of the Jerusalem area. Most of 
the Arab states that had originally objected to the separate regime 
for Jerusalem were now ready to accept demilitarization as an 
anti-Israel as well as an anti-Abdullah move. Iraq was straddling 
the fence: whether to side with Egypt and condemn Abdullah 
for the failure of the campaign and acceptance of the truce, or 
to line up with Abdullah against the growing power of Egypt. 
Bagdad was apparently inclined toward Hashimi untiy, and in 
the first week of August the Iraqi Regent met with Abdullah in 
Amman, where it was reported that they had agreed to put their 
armies under a unified command, but that Iraq had demanded 
that all British officers be withdrawn from Transjordan. 

The criticism leveled against him by his Arab opponents 
angered Abdullah, especially when they were ready to agree to 
the internationalization of Jerusalem, and he did not hesitate 
to accuse them of having done nothing for the sake of Palestine. 
On August 6, in a proclamation to his army, he stated: "Your 
Army has preserved the holiness of Jerusalem. We and the others 
went into this fight jointly. We are here. Where are the others? 
We have fought and progressed, but we have not seen this pro- 
gress made by others." While the Mediator was working toward 
a solution, as outlined in his June plan, the truce was deteriorat- 
ing rapidly because of three difficulties: Jerusalem; the water 
pumping station for Jerusalem at Latrun; and the Jewish colo- 
nies in the Negev. 15 

While engaged in his efforts to bring peace to Jerusalem, the 
Mediator, Count Bernadotte, was assassinated in that city, on 
September 17, by Jewish terrorists of the "Fatherland Front/' 

IS For details see "The End of the Palestine Truce," Palestine Affairs, HI, 
125-132, Nov., 1948. 


This act, which shocked the world, was denounced by the Israeli 
government and was considered by the Israeli leaders a major 
setback to the new state's objectives. Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, the 
Mediator's chief of staff, was named Acting Mediator. Before his 
death, Bernadotte had sent his report and conclusions to the 
United Nations General Assembly, meeting in Paris. The Arab 
League leaders and Haj Amin al Husaini rejected the plan. The 
chief American delegate, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, 
declared that the plan provided for a fair and sound settlement 
and should be accepted. British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin 
gave his "wholehearted and unqualified support" to Marshall's 
declaration. Abdullah, of course, was hoping it would be accepted. 
This time, while he had the opposition of Israel and the Arab 
League states, he had the enthusiastic support of Great Britain 
and the United States. His opponents were not, however, to 
permit him an easy victory. On September 20, an "Arab Govern- 
ment of All Palestine" was proclaimed, with Ahmad Hilmi 
Pasha whom Abdullah had tried to win over to his side by ap- 
pointing him military governor of Jerusalem as Premier and the 
seat of government Gaza. This All Palestine government was soon 
recognized by all the member states of the League, including Iraq. 
The challenge was thrown; the next step was up to Transjordan. 
While the United States was considering the Bernadotte plan, 
and while the Arabs were bickering among themselves as to who 
should control Arab Palestine, the truce was broken in the Negev 
on October 15 and the hosilities resulted in a complete rout for 
the Egyptian forces. Four days later the Security Council met in 
emergency session and adopted a new cease-fire resolution which 
went into effect on the 22nd. 

Glubb's report on the cooperation between the Arab armies 
is interesting: 

"On December 23rd the heads of all the Arab Governments, 
or their representatives, met in Amman to discuss how to help 
the Egyptians. Nokrashy Pasha, the Prime Minister of Egypt, and 
Jameel Mardam, Prime Minister of Syria, were the chief speakers. 
Jameel Mardam voiced the opinion that it was disgraceful that 
the other Arab armies had not come to the assistance of Egypt. 
All agreed that they would come to her assistance next time, but 
that there did not appear to be any need to do so now, as the 
cease-fire had been accepted. The Prime Minister of Syria waved 
his hand across the map, and explained how, if this kind of thing 
happened again, the Syrian army would break through between 


Hule and the Sea of Galilee, and would capture Nazareth and 
Safad. He hoped in that case that the Iraqi army would capture 
Affula. General Saleh as Saib, Chief of the General Staff of the 
Iraqi army, looked at the Syrian Premier somewhat sardonically. 
Finally, he remarked that, if the Syrian army did all the Prime 
Minister proposed, the Iraqi army would co-operate. 

"The Arab Legion attempted to bring the discussion out of 
these airy clouds down to earth. 

"The cease-fire had left the Egyptian army split into three 

"(1) The Gaza group on which the Isdud-Majdal garrison was 

"(2) The troops cut off on the east in the Bethlehem-Hebron 

"(3) The garrisons of Egyptian front-line posts on the sector 
between two Israeli 'breaks through/ which had taken place at 
Iraq Suweidan and Beit Jibrin. These garrisons which amounted 
to some 2,500 men were now besieged at Falluja. 

"The most urgent problem was how to rescue this besieged gar- 
rison. The Arab Legion column had reached the Hebron area, 
but was too weak to undertake any offensive operations. We con- 
sequently suggested that the Iraqi army extend its front to take 
over Latrun from us, and that we then transfer the troops in the 
Latrun sector to Hebron. This would enable us to build up in 
Hebron a force sufficient to extricate the Egyptians from Falluja. 
The Iraqis, however, replied that they were not in a position to 
take over Latrun. As a result, the Arab Legion was left to do 
everything to defend its original front from Beit Nabala to 
south-east of Jerusalem, to hold the whole Hebron district and in 
addition to rescue what it could from the debacle in the south. 
Neither the Iraqis, the Syrians, nor the Lebanese were prepared 
to change their dispositions." *6 

Qawuqji's forces, meanwhile, had become involved in clashes 
with Israeli forces in Western Galilee, which area was the respon- 
sibility of the Lebanese government. On October 24 fighting 
broke out all along the northern frontier. Four days later a cease- 
fire was issued by the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce 
Supervision Organization, Lt. Gen. William A. Riley. Not until 
November I, after all of Galilee had been swept clear of Arab 
forces and some Lebanese villages had been taken by the Israelis, 

16 Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs, 200-202, 211. It should be noted that in 
spite of Glubb's excuses, the strength of the Legion was being rapidly in- 
creased and by Nov. 1, 1948 it was double what it had been when the war 
broke out: about 10,000 men. 


did the fighting stop. The Security Council attempted, under 
the threat of sanctions, to force Israel to return to the Negev 
lines she had held on October 14. Israel maintained that since the 
Egyptians were in Palestine in violation of the United Nations 
resolution, they could not be rewarded by being permitted to 
return to the lines they had held while they were breaking the 
truce. At the end, the Acting Mediator worked out a plan under 
which the Israelis retained practically all the territory they had 
taken from the Egyptians, and the Israelis reported that their 
army had left the area. Finally on November 4, 1948, the Security 
Council adopted a resolution, by a vote of 8-1 with 2 abstentions, 
the operating part of which stated that the Security Council: 
"Decides that, in order to eliminate the threat to peace in Pales- 
tine and to facilitate the transition from the present truce to 
permanent peace in Palestine, an armistice shall be established in 
all sectors of Palestine." 


The war in Palestine came to an end. Of all the Arab countries 
warring against the United Nations partition resolution, Trans- 
jordan was the only one that emerged with substantial gains; 
she held the major parts of the proposed Arab state in the central 
part of Palestine. Although the Legion had to give up the Lydda- 
Ramle salient, it retained most of the rest of the territory and it 
held the Old City of Jerusalem. While the other members of the 
Arab League had recognized the "All Palestine Government" 
of the Mufti, the UN General Assembly was still considering the 
Bernadotte plan, and Abdullah could still hope to come out the 
victor over his Arab opponents. The British were putting up a 
valiant fight on his behalf. Although until then the British had 
maintained that they would support only such a solution to 
which both parties agreed, Foreign Secretary Bevin now declared: 
"We do not suppose that either side will welcome these proposals 
in toto, but the world cannot wait forever for the parties to 
agree. It is now time, in the opinion of His Majesty's Govern- 
ment, for a final solution to be found by the United Nations." 
But the changed situation in Palestine as a result of the October 
campaign in the Negev and Galilee made the Bernadotte plan 
a dead letter; the resolution submitted in the Political Committee 
on November 18, 1948, based on the Bernadotte plan, could not 


muster the necessary vote to assure its passage. Up to the very 
last minute the British tried, after all the important aspects of 
the plan had been given up, to retain the provision of uniting 
Arab Palestine with Transjordan. The resolution on Palestine 
voted by the General Assembly on December 11 not only failed 
to adopt the Bernadotte plan, but it left Abdullah no recourse 
but to take measures of his own to guarantee that the part of 
the projected Arab state under his military control would become 
part of his kingdom. 17 

The Arab Legion's experience in the war with Israel was an 
important and decisive factor for Transjordan and Abdullah. 
The Legion emerged as the best Arab fighting force in the Middle 
East; of all the Arab armies it had the best organization and 
discipline. The war with Israel gave the Legion its first real 
combat experience and it came through honorably. It should 
be noted that the success the Legion achieved was due in great 
measure not only to its discpline and training resulting from 
British efforts, but above all to the restraint exercised over it by 
its British commanders, who knew and appreciated the impor- 
tance of military considerations rather than emotional reckless- 
ness in dealing with the enemy. While the loss of Lydda-Ramle 
was bitterly resented by all the Arabs, including the Premier 
of Transjordan and even King Abdullah, the withdrawal of the 
forces from that salient may very likely have saved the entire 
Transjordan position. On the other hand, the Legion's success 
heightened the antagonism and even hostility to Abdullah. To 
judge from Glubb's reports, the other Arab countries, including 
Iraq, expected the Legion to do all the fighting and be respon- 
sible for all the failures. The success of the Legion strengthened 
Abdullah's conviction that he was the right man to lead the 
Arabs in forming the Greater Syria, which would begin with the 
extension of his power in Arab Palestine, One cannot doubt 
Abdullah's sincerity when he declared: "I thank God that I am 
able to say that I owe the greatest share of my success to this 
army." Or when, on May 25, 1949, he told the Legion: "In my 
capacity as your chief, mentor and guide, I say that you are the 
greatest reward which God has granted me in this life, and I 
praise and thank him for it." In typical Arab fashion the military 
glories of early Islam were the ideal toward which he strove 

17 "From Partition to Conciliation," Palestine Affairs, III, 141-147, Dec., 


and which made up part of his dream of an Arab renaissance. 
Describing the achievements of the Legion in Jerusalem, he said 
that they "remind me of the boldness and gallantry which char- 
acterize the early warriors of Islam." 1 * One would have thought 
that after God Abdullah should have mentioned the British, who 
supplied not only the means for the Legion's existence, but the 
training, equipment, discipline and command as well. Moreover, 
the British helped Abdullah's political ambitions, despite the 
restraints they sometimes imposed on him. Whether in the long 
run this was for his benefit and for their own is another question. 
The war with Israel proved two things to Abdullah: it con- 
firmed his original conviction that Israel was a formidable force, 
and that it would have been better not to go to war with Israel; 
and it confirmed his original estimation of the military effective- 
ness of the member-states of the Arab League. Secondly, it illus- 
trated beyond doubt the hostility of the League members to any 
extension of his powers, even in the limited direction of Arab 
Palestine, let alone the Greater Syria plan. The Arab defeat 
at the hands of Israel hardened rather than softened their oppo- 
sition to his plans. But he was as determined as ever to go ahead 
with them. 

18 Abdullah, My Memoirs Completed, 81-83. 

Chapter XV 

Armistice Negotiations 

BY THE END OF 1948 it was obvious that the Arab 
attempt to prevent the establishment of the State of Israel 
had been effectively negated by the determination of the 
people of the new-born state. Moreover, the latest Israeli victories 
in the Negev and Galilee had established their military superior- 
ity. No single Arab state or group of states, contemplated a new 
offensive. Yet on November 6 the United Nations, meeting in 
the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, was thrown into an uproar when 
it was reported that the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision 
Organization, Gen. William A. Riley, had told the Arab repre- 
sentatives, at a special conference, that the Israel army domi- 
nated the military situation in Palestine, that Israel had won the 
campaign, that the military position of the Arabs was hopeless, 
and that the only cource left for the Arabs was to negotiate for 
a permanent peace. The Arabs might not have been ready for a 
permanent peace, but they were ready for an armistice. The 
question then arose as to who should be the first to sign with 
Israel. In view of the defeat Egypt had suffered at the hands of 
the Israelis, and in view of Egypt's insistence that the truce be 
broken and the war continued, she should have been the first 
to negotiate and sign the armistice. But Egypt would have pre- 
ferred that Transjordan be the first to sign, or at least to suggest 
that an armistice be completed, so that the odium would fall on 
Abdullah and not on Faruq. 

On November 3, 1948, Abdullah received a message from the 
Egyptian Minister of Defense pleading with him that he suggest 
to the King of Egypt that it was time to make peace, Abduilah 
had no intention of pulling Egypt's chestnuts out of the fire. 
Recruiting for the Arab Legion went on at an increased tempo, 



but Transjordan made no move that would lead to renewed 
hostilities with Egypt. The Arab Legion was completely isolated 
from the other Arab armies and took care not to expose itself 
to Israel attacks. On November 30 a cease-fire in the Jerusalem 
area was agreed on; it provided for a regular convoy service to 
the Israel enclave of the Hadassah Hospital-Hebrew University 
on Mount Scopus, 

While the Egyptians were to experience another serious clash 
in December with the Israelis in the Negev, 1 and another Security 
Council resolution ordering a new cease-fire was to be enacted 
on the 29th, the front between Transjordan and Israel was com- 
paratively quiet. On January 6, 1949 the Acting Mediator, Dr. 
Ralph Bunche, announced that Israel and Egypt had agreed to 
a cease-fire order and that both had indicated willingness to enter 
into direct negotiations for an armistice. Egypt having made 
the first move, the others soon followed suit. On the 13th Israeli 
and Egyptian representatives met on the island of Rhodes, at an 
armistice conference presided over by the Acting UN Mediator, 
and on February 24 the first agreement between Israel and an 
Arab state Egypt was signed. 

On February 8 Transjordan accepted the invitation of the 
Acting Mediator to negotiate for an armistice. Abdullah had 
never had too much faith in the ability of his ministers, and the 
reason his premiers changed so frequently was his differences 
of opinion with them. He believed in keeping a close watch over 
developments himself, and in controlling them firmly. Now one 
of the major decisions of his career was at hand and he had to 
have close control over it. According to Walter Eytan, the Direc- 
tor General of the Israel Foreign Office and head of the Israel 
armistice negotiations, the negotiatiors who came to Rhodes from 
Jordan were of a lower quality than the Egyptians, in fact, they 
were inferior to all the other negotiating teams. The members 
of the delegation looked somewhat lost and not sure of their 
instructions; Eytan suspected that no clear instructions had been 
given to them, intentionally. Abdullah soon indicated that he 
did not trust them and took matters into his own hands. 

"It was agreed that the talks at Rhodes should continue as a 

1 A gesture was made on Dec. 25 by the Secretary General of the Arab 
League, Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, when he announced that the League 
had called on the Arab states to resume the war because Israel had violated 
the truce. 


facade, but that the real negotiations should be conducted in 
secret with the King at his winter palace at Shuneh. Only the 
King's closest confidants were to know; the rest of the world was 
to go on watching the show at Rhodes. This had, perhaps, been 
the King's intention from the outset and determined his choice 
of delegates. 

"The conversations at Shuneh will not quickly be forgotten by 
those who took part in them. There was the excitement of travel- 
ing in enemy territory under cover of night. We crossed each time 
on foot through the barricades of no man's land in Jerusalem, to 
find a car and an escort waiting for us on the other side. The pro- 
ceedings at Shuneh consisted invariably of a general talk before 
dinner and more detailed discussion afterward, until early in the 
morning. The time limit for each night's talk was set by the neces- 
sity of returning across the frontier before dawn." 

Present at the meetings were, in addition to the Israel delega- 
tion, the King, his ministers and advisers, and the chief of opera- 
tions of the Arab Legion, a Britisher. Among the King's advisers 
was Abdullah al Tel, who was subsequently implicated in 
Abdullah's assassination, and who, according to Eytan, stood out 
from the rest of the advisers. The results of the discussions at 
Shuneh were transmitted to the respective delegations at Rhodes 
and were incorporated into the Israel-Transjordan armistice 
agreement, which was signed there on April 3, 1949. 2 

Glubb, who was with the delegation at Rhodes, recorded noth- 
ing about the Shuneh negotiations. That he was among those 
whom the King did not trust, and that he was not informed about 
the discussions was not likely, since his chief of operations was 
present, undoubtedly with Glubb's permission. That Amman 
instructed the Transjordan delegation on practically every word 
was attested by Glubb himself, as mentioned in the previous 
chapter. 3 From testimony from other sources including Abdul- 
lah al Tel it would seem that the veracity of Eytan's account is 
not to be questioned, and that Glubb, who knew all about what 
was going on, did not report it out of deference to Abdullah. 

2 Walter Eytan, The First Ten Years (New York, 1958), 39-41. 

3 Glubb explained that the reason the delegation was composed exclusively 
of Arab Legion Officers was that the armistice was in theory a military one, 
not a political peace. Nevertheless, the delegation was forbidden to agree to 
anything without reference to Amman, "thus in reality every phrase had been 
approved or even dictated by Taufiq Pasha." A Soldier with the Arabs, 241, 


Affaire Aqaba 

Before the armistice agreement could be signed, the "affaire 
Aqaba" had to be cleared up. There are clear indications that 
Great Britain, for her own interests as well as out of considera- 
tion for Transjordan, hoped that the Negev, or at least the major 
part of it, would not form part of the Israel state but would be 
included in Transjordan, not only to form a land bridge with 
Egypt, thus ensuring territorial contiguity between all the Arab 
League member-states, but also as a possible alternative to the 
British military base of the Suez zone. This last was most likely 
one of the factors that prompted the British to support the 
Bernadotte plan; the same consideration prompted them to 
accuse Israel, on several occasions, of violating Transjordan terri- 
tory so that they could justify the sending of reinforcements 
under the provisions of the Anglo-Transjordan treaty. 

On December 8, 1948 Harold Beeley, the British representative 
in the Security Council, charged that Israel had violated Trans- 
jordan's territory. Transjordan herself had not complained of 
such a violation either to the Security Council or to Great 
Britain, and the Acting Mediator who had been in Amman on 
the 7th, had heard of no such violation. The British, neverthe- 
less, proceeded with their plans; on January 4, 1949 they officially 
informed the American State Department that they were sending 
combat troops to Aqaba, and the next day London reported that 
as a precaution against Israeli incursions, a detachment of British 
troops had been dispatched. In spite of Israel's protest to the 
United Nations that this was a hostile act, the British Under- 
secretary for Foreign Affairs, Christopher Mayhew, stated in the 
House of Commons that the action was wise and necessary. 

Israel was sending patrols along the Wadi Arabah, proceeding 
toward the coast. The Transjordan delegation at Rhodes com- 
plained about this to the Acting Mediator. On March 10, Trans- 
Jordan complained officially to the Security Council that Israel 
forces, using tanks and armored cars, had conducted military 
operations against the Arab Legion in the Wadi Arabah. Israel 
denied the accusation. The report of the Acting Mediator stated 
that UN observers had found no signs of decent fighting in the 
area, that there were no fixed fighting lines, and that the military 
positions held by both sides were not defined, and that military 


movement in the past had been confined to small-scale patrol 

The Israeli objective was obviously the Palestine coastal strip 
at the extreme end of the Negev; the only port at the time was 
Aqaba. The British government in London called in the Israeli 
representative and warned him against any attempt by Israeli 
forces to attack Aqaba. Despite the assurances of the Israeli rep- 
resentative and the Israel Foreign Minister that Israel had no 
intention of entering Transjordan territory, the British War 
Office announced on March 12 that the garrison of Aqaba was 
being strengthened in view of the presence of Israeli troops in 
the vicinity; the following day the British ship Magpie, carrying 
armored vehicles and other reinforcements, arrived at the port 
and the crew took up battle stations. 4 

London claimed (March 14) that some 3,000 Israeli troops 
were in Elath, the small strip of coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba, 
in Israeli territory. The Acting Mediator verified that there were 
about 150 Israelis in the area, all concentrated in Umm Rashrash, 
the police station on the coast which had been evacuated by 
the Arab Legion prior to the arrival of the Israelis. Yet on the 
15th British tanks, a batallion of Royal Marine Commandos and 
a brigade headquarters were landed in Aqaba, together with 
infantry troops who dug fox-holes and slit trenches, ready 
for battle. 

Five days later Transjordan, accusing Israel of incursions into 
her territory south of the Dead Sea, formally requested the 
British Government for military assistance to defend her southern 
territory. This meant that British troops would replace the 
Legion forces up to the Dead Sea, and that these forces would be 
released for the central front and constitute a new threat to 
Israel. The British indicated willingness to comply with Trans- 
jordan's request; the Israelis warned against British forces taking 
over the Arab Legion position in southern Transjordan. The 
tension was so great that the armistice negotiations at Rhodes 
came to a virtual standstill, and it looked as if they might col- 
lapse completely. 

The Mediator's report to the Security Council stated that if 
British troops took up positions in Transjordan, it would be in 
violation of the truce. The British were in an extremely awk- 
ward position; they decided not to comply with Transjordan's 

4 Great Britain, PJXC., 469, col. 372, Nov. 2, 1949. 




request for assistance. This meant that they were giving up their 
hope of obtaining the Negev directly for Transjordan, and indi- 
rectly for themselves. The obstacles to the signing of the armis- 
tice agreement were now removed and on April 3, as mentioned 
above, it was signed. 

Trctnsjordan-lsrael Armistice Agreement 

The agreement consisted of a Preamble and twelve articles. 
The Preamble declared that the parties had entered into nego- 
tiations in compliance with the Security Council resolution of 
November 16, as a temporary measure toward ultimate peace. 
Both parties pledged themselves not to resort, during the armis- 
tice, to military force in the settlement of the Palestine question, 
not to plan or undertake aggressive action against the other, 
while each would respect the right of the other to its security 
and freedom from fear of attack. The military character of the 
armistice was emphasized, and it was especially noted that "no 
provision of the Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, 
claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peace- 
ful settlement of the Palestine question." 

Article 5 dealt with the demarcation lines; Article 6 recognized 
the substitution of Transjordan troops in part of the Arab terri- 
tory occupied by Iraqi forces, and provided for rectification of 
the line in favor of Israel in order to make it possible for the 
Haifa-Tel Aviv railway to run in Israel territory; in return for 
this the Israel government agreed to reimburse Transjordan for 
the cost of constructing some 20 kilometers of first-class road. 

In view of the unique character of the armistice lines between 
Transjordan and Israel as regards the City of Jerusalem and the 
Jerusalem area, and in consideration of the vital and basic con- 
ditions necessary for the effective operation of the armistice in 
juxtaposition of the established interests of one side within the 
lines of the other, a special article, 8, which provided the 
machinery for meeting the needs of both sides, was written into 
the agreement. It read: 

I. A Special Committee, composed of two representatives of 
each party designated by the respective Governments, shall be 
established jfor the purpose of formulating agreed plans and 
arrangements designed to enlarge the scope of this Agreement 
and to effect improvements in its application. 


2. The Special Committee shall be organized immediately fol- 
lowing the coming into effect of this Agreement and shall direct 
its attention to the formulation of agreed plans and arrangements 
for such matters as either Party may submit to it, which, in any 
case, shall include the following, on which agreement in princi- 
ple already exists: free movement of traffic on vital roads, includ- 
ing the Bethlehem and Latrun-Jerusalem roads; resumption of 
normal functioning of the cultural and humanitarian institutions 
on Mount Scopus and free access thereto; free access to the Holy 
Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the 
Mount of Olives; resumption of operation of the Latrun pumping 
station; provision of electricity for the Old City; and resumption 
of operation of the railroad to Jerusalem. 

3. The Special Committee shall have exclusive competence over 
such matters as may be referred to it. Agreed plans and arrange- 
ments formulated by it may provide for the exercise of supervisory 
function by the Mixed Armistice Commission established in 
Article XI.5 

The mixed armistice commission presided over by a United 
Nations officer to execute the provisions of the armistice was to 
be formed. The last article of the agreement outlined machinery 
for modification or suspension of any of its provisions. 

All concernedthe parties directly involved as well as the 
United Nations and the great powers which were indirectly 
involvedlooked upon the armistice as a temporary instrument 
which would soon be replaced by a permanent peace. 6 

First Steps 
An Arab Government of All Palestine, under the premiership 

5 United Nations, Security Council, Official Records, Fourth Year, Special 
Supplement No. 1, Lake Success, 1949, 5-6. Unfortunately, the Special Com- 
mittee was never appointed because of Transjordan's refusal to comply with 
the provisions of the article, and even the arrangements agreed to by both 
sides at Rhodes were never implmented. It has been maintained that had 
Jordan designated its representatives and had the Special Committee been 
functioning and had implemented the agreed arrangements and perhaps other 
plans and arrangements that might have been submitted to it, the situation 
between Jordan and Israel would not have been so tense. Indeed, the last 
visit, in Dec. 1958-Jan. 1959, of the UN Secretary General to the Middle East 
was concerned with the non-implementation of the provisions of Article VHI, 
which was given as the major cause of the increased friction. 

6 Kirk, The Middle East 1945-1950, 296-298; Great Britain, PJ>.C V 463, coL 
846, Mar. 28, 1949; O'Ballance, The ArabJsraeli War 1948, 203-204; "Armis- 
tice-Second Chapter: Lebanon, Transjordan," "Palestine Affairs, IV, 42-47, 
Apr., 1949. 


fo Ahmad Hilmi Pasha, with headquarters in Gaza, was pro- 
claimed on September 20, 1948. About one week later the Mufti 
of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husaini, arrived in Gaza and was 
elected president of an Arab Palestine national assembly which 
claimed authority over a free democratic sovereign state in all 
of Palestine. Within a month it was recognized by all the Arab 
League member-states, including Iraq, but not, of course, Trans- 
jordan. This government was the challenge thrown to Abdullah 
by his opponents, daring him to defy the Arab League by annex- 
ing Arab Palestine. 

The authority of the All Palestine government was shadowy, 
and limited to the extent that Egyptwhich was in military 
control of the Gaza area permitted, and of course it covered only 
the Gaza area. The rest of Arab Palestine was under the Arab 
Legion. Abdullah refused to acknowledge the existence of the 
Gaza government ''within the security zone of the Trans- Jordan 
Government, which extends from the Egyptian kingdom's fron- 
tiers to the frontiers of Syria and Lebanon." But it soon became 
clear to him that mere refusal to recognize the Egyptian-spon- 
sored puppet government was not enough, that measures of a 
positive character would have to be taken to counteract the Gaza 
setup. Cautiously, a number of steps were planned, each more 
daring than the one before; they were to be taken one at a time, 
and if conditions warranted, the next would follow, until the 
final step, from which no retreat would be possible. 

On October 1, 1948 a Palestine refugee conference of some 
5,000 notables was convened in Amman; it repudiated the Mufti's 
government and invited King Abdullah to take Palestine under 
his protection. To soften the blow and demonstrate that the 
action of the refugee conference had not been inspired, Abdullah 
declared on November 1, while opening the Transjordan Parlia- 
ment, that the Arab states were united, that his disagreement 
over the Palestine government in Gaza was not basic but simply 
a matter of opinion over timing. 7 

The next move came on November 15. While visiting the 
Coptic convent in the Old City of Jerusalem, Abdullah was 
crowned by the Coptic bishop, who proclaimed him "King of 
Jerusalem/' This went unnoticed. The next move would have 
to be more daring. 

7 M. Perlmann, "The Middle East Review of Events," Palestine Affairs, 
III, 137, Nov., 1948. 




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Under the leadership of Shaikh Muhammad Ali al Jabari, the 
mayor of Hebron, an Arab Congress representing the national 
leaders of Arab Palestine under Transjordan occupation, with 
headquarters in Amman, met in Jericho on December 1. The 
Congress adopted a series of resolutions calling for the immediate 
annexation of Arab Palestine to Transjordan under the crown 
of Abdullah. The resolutions were cabled to the UN General 
Assembly, sitting in Paris, and to the Arab League in Cairo. 
One week later the Transjordan Cabinet acted on the Jericho 
resolutions by deciding to take every possible "legal and inter- 
national" measure to translate them into fact, and submitted its 
decision to Parliament, which was to act on the resolutions on 
December 13. In Amman it was stated that as soon as Parliament 
approved the resolutions, Abdullah would proclaim himself King 
of Palestine. 

Abdullah's opponents realized that matters were advancing to 
a dangerous stage and that they would have to take steps to stop 
the Transjordan ruler from achieving his end. The initiative 
was taken by the King of Egypt. In a letter dated December 13, 
addressed to all Arab chiefs of state, Faruq declared that the 
resolutions of the Jericho congress, requesting the merging of 
Palestine with Transjordan under the kingship of Abdullah, 
"did not represent the decision of the Palestine people" and 
were therefore not binding on the Palestine Arabs, and he, Faruq, 
would not recognize such a merging. The Council of Ulemas 
of al Azhar University in Cairo, came to Faruq's support and 
denounced Abdullah's plan as "violating Islam's pledge to 
Allah." In a formal proclamation addressed to all kings, com- 
munities and peoples of the Muslim countries throughout the 
world, the Council asserted that Transjordan's annexation of 
Palestine would "violate Arab unity, split the League, consolidate 
the Jewish position, and pave the way for annihilation of the 
Arabs in Palestine/' Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, Secretary 
General of the Arab League, attacked the Jericho resolutions; 
the King of Saudi Arabia voiced his objections, and Damascus 
warned Abdullah not to take any action on the resolutions. 

Abdullah replied. Shaikh Sulaiman Taji al Faruqi of the 
Palestine Muslim Ulemas, in an open letter to the chief shaikh 
of al Azhar, stated that the University had no right to interfere 
in the affairs of King Abdullah and in the affairs of the Arabs 
of Palestine. Shaikh Muhammad Ali al Jabari broadcast an open 


letter to King Faruq: "Let the Arab Governments, including 
Egypt, raise their censorship for one day only, let the press tell 
the people that during six months of war the Arab armies occu- 
pied ten small Jewish settlements, while the Zionist flag flies over 
fourteen big Arab towns and more than 400 Arab villages/' He 
reminded Egypt's Faruq that he had promised to liberate Pales- 
tine by force, but that he had failed utterly, and he charged him 
not to interfere in the affairs of the Palestine Arabs, "Let us, the 
people of Palestine, save at least what is left of our country by 
peaceful means." The Arabs of Palestine, "who cannot bear their 
sufferings any longer, have decided to proclaim Abdullah King 
of Palestine." 

Abdullah kept aloof from the heated debate. On December 13 
the Transjordan Parliament unanimously approved the Jericho 
resolutions, as recommended by the Cabinet. Contrary to general 
prediction, however, Abdullah did not proclaim himself King. 
Instead, Premier Abul Huda, in answer to King Faruq's charge 
that the Jericho Congress did not represent the Arabs of Pales- 
tine, declared that the implementation of the resolutions would 
be "according to constitutional, legal and international rules." 

Only a week after his Parliament voted on the resolution, 
Abdullah appointed Shaikh Husam ad Din Jarallah, former 
president of the Muslim religious court of appeals, as the new 
Mufti of Jerusalem, thus not only revenging himself on his old 
enemy, Haj Amin, but defying the action of the Arab League 
and repudiating the Gaza government. 

Arab Palestine's New Status 

The status of Arab Palestine under Transjordan occupation 
was that of a conquered territory and the regime was military. 
In order to extend his authority, Abdullah abolished the military 
regime (on March 17, 1949) and established civil rule. There 
were, of course, rumblings from some of the other Arab states, 
who clearly perceived the motive behind the move, but they 
could not be too vociferous in view of the fact that Egypt had 
just concluded an armistice agreement, the first, with Israel. 

The Palestine Arabs who opposed Abdullah, aided by the 
agents of the Gaza government (which in the meantime had been 
exiled into Egypt) conducted a vigorous campaign against the 
Transjordan administration of Palestine. They charged it with 


discrimination against the Palestinians, particularly in economic 
matters; accused it of dictatorial practices and corruption; 
claimed that Palestine was being exploited for the benefit of 
Transjordanians. To meet these charges and at the same time 
advance his annexation scheme, Abdullah made the government 
resign on May 3; four days later a new and enlarged cabinet was 
formed by the same Premier. Among its members were three 
Palestinians: Ruhi Bey Abdul Hadi, Minister of Foreign Affairs; 
Musa Nasir, Minister of Communications; Khulusi Khairi, Min- 
ister of Agriculture and Commerce. 8 

On August 14, 1949 Abdullah appointed Raghib Bey Nasha- 
shibi, former mayor of the city of Jerusalem and a long-time foe 
of the former Mufti of Jerusalem, as Minister of Refugees and 
Deputy Governor of Arab Palestine, with the title of Pasha. This 
act had several objectives. It indicated the King's concern for 
the Palestinian refugees; it showed that Transjordan was willing 
to approach the question of resettling the refugees and coop- 
erating with the impending United Nations Economic Survey 
Mission for the Middle East; and, finally, it added a fourth Pales- 
tinian member to the Transjordan Cabinet, thereby strengthen- 
ing the ties between the east and west banks of the Jordan. 

Abdullah's enemies were not idling. As will be recalled, the 
1947 United Nations Palestine resolution called for the establish- 
ment of an international regime for the Jerusalem area. Since 
the United Nations was incapable of preventing the outbreak of 
hostilities, Jerusalem had become one of the major battle areas 
and finally was divided, by the exigencies of war, between Israel, 
holding most of the New City, and Transjordan, the Old City. 
The United Nations, nevertheless, attempted to proceed with 
internationalization as if nothing had happened. Both Israel 
and Transjordan opposed the establishment of an international 
regime. Israel, for historical, sentimental and political reasons, 
established her capital in Jerusalem. She maintained that inter- 
national functional control of the holy places was necessary, as 
well as a guarantee that they would be accessible, but that govern- 
mental territorial administration of the area was not necessary. 
Abdullah, after the great sacrifices he had made, without help 
from the Arab states, would not give up Jerusalem, which was 

8 On Apr. 15 Dr. Yussif Haikal, the first Palestine Arab to accept Trans- 
jordan citizenship, was named minister to the United States. 



King Abdullah, Admiral Sir Algernon U. Willis, and Amir Naif at 
Portsmouth, on Lord Nelson's flagship Victory, August 1949 


the military anchor for his entire section of central western 
Palestine; nor would he renounce the throne of Jerusalem. 

Internationalization of Jerusalem 

In the United Nations a peculiar combination of forces was 
pushing a resolution calling for the internationalization of the 
Jerusalem area. All the Arab states, including Iraq, warmly 
advocated and supported the internationalization of the city. 
Curiously enough, these very Arab states had opposed every one 
of the provisions of the partition resolution, including the inter- 
nationalization of Jerusalem; now they had become enthusiastic 
supporters of United Nations' control of the city. Their aim was 
not only to deprive the Israelis of their part of the city, but also 
Abdullah of his part He and they knew that without Jerusalem 
his hold on Arab Palestine would be seriously, if not fatally, 
endangered. The Arab League Council, meeting in Cairo in the 
middle of October 1949, adopted a resolution supporting inter- 
nationalization; in the United Nations debate on the Jerusalem 
issue in November and December, Abdullah was completely iso- 
lated, and later Transjordan found herself fighting with Israel 
against the move. 9 

Abdullah retaliated. On December 6 he let the governorship 
of Palestine lapse; from December 16 the western side of the 
Jordan had no separate administration, all government business 
was conducted from Amman by the respective ministers. All that 
was necessary was the final legal act. On December 27 it was offi- 
cially announced that the Transjordan Parliament had been 
dissolved and that elections for a new Pariament would be held 
on both sides of the Jordan in the middle of April. Arab Pales- 
tine was to elect twenty deputies, with three seats reserved for 
Christian deputies, and Transjordan was to elect twenty. This 
move was primarily, if not exclusively, a maneuver in the direc- 
tion of annexing Arab Palestine. 

9 Commenting on the stand taken by the Arab states at the United Nations 
on the question of the internationalization of Jerusalem, Falastin, the Arab 
newspaper that appeared in the Old City, said: "How can we adequately 
express our hatred for those Arab delegates at Lake Success who sacrificed 
Arab interests in Jerusalem for the sake of their political speculations and 
personal ambitions? It was the disunity and lack of public spirit on the part 
of those same Arab states that caused the loss of a large part of Palestine to 
the Jews a year ago. Now they want to be instrumental in losing the Mosque 
of Omar also/' 


The last Parliament had been elected in October 1947 for a 
four-year term, as constitutionally provided. Its dissolution could 
not have been the result of a non-confidence vote since the Cab- 
inet was not responsible to Parilament but to the King. The 
purpose was to enable the Palestinians to approve the annexation 
"according to constitutional, legal and international rules," as 
the Premier had promised the previous December. By having 
them participate in the general elections for a united Parliament, 
Abdullah could meet the charge that the Palestine Arabs had 
not been given an opportunity to express their views on the 
union of Arab Palestine with Transjordan. A united Parliament 
would remove the final stumbling block to union. Abdullah's 
opponents could do nothing but try to induce the Palestinian 
Arabs to boycott the elections. In the middle of February it was 
reported that the election boards which had been set up on both 
sides of the Jordan had registered about 304,000 eligible voters. 
Of these, 157,000 were on the western side and 147,000 on the 
eastern side. 

The Syrian Scene 

During the time that Abdullah was maneuvering to annex 
Arab Palestine, events were developing in Syria which had a defi- 
nite effect on Abdullah's plans. The National Bloc, which was hi 
control of the government, was weakened by the revelation of the 
disastrous Arab defeat in the war with Israel, and by economic 
difficulties. Student demonstrationsan indispensable element in 
the political life of the Middle East-and a general strike in 
November forced the resignation of the Mardam cabinet on 
December 1, 1948. After a two-week crisis, Khalid al Azm formed 
a government comprised of independents. It soon became obvi- 
ous that this was only a transition government and that the army 
was preparing to take over control. On March 30, 1949, Col. 
Husni az Zaim, Army chief of staff, overthrew the Azm govern- 
ment in a coup d'ftat and arrested President Shukri al Kuwatli, 
the Premier, and members of his cabinet. It was not known at 
first what Zaim's attitude was toward Abdullah and toward the 
Hashimis in general. Was he pro the Egyptian-Saudi bloc in the 
Arab League, or was he inclined toward the Hashimis? Iraq, now 
intent on extending her domain westward in order to obtain an 
outlet to the Mediterranean especially after the serious loss of 


oil revenue as a result of the closing of the branch pipeline that 
carried Iraqi oil to the Haifa terminal-dispatched her Premier, 
Nuri as Said, to Damascus; he was the first important Arab leader 
to visit the Syrian capital after the coup. Apparently satisfied 
with his report, Iraq extended recognition to the new regime 
the first Arab state to do so. The rapport between Syria and Iraq 
was short-lived; after Zaim's visit to King Faruq, he became a 
violent anti-Hashimi and a strong anti-Abdullah force in the 

The tension between Syria and Transjordan rose to such 
heights that on April 26 the Syrian dictator closed the border 
between the two countries and warned Abdullah against any 
attempt to annex Syrian territory; he stated bluntly that Trans- 
Jordan would soon become part of the Republic of Syria. Fans 
al Khouri, the Syrian elder statesman, characterized Abdullah's 
expectations as "futile, personal ambitions unworthy of Syria's 
considerations/' 10 

Relations between Syria and Iraq also deteriorated. On June 
15 Zaim declared that 5,000 Iraqi troops were massed on Syria's 
border; he ordered Syrian troops to the frontier and considered 
breaking off relations with Bagdad. 

Ten days later Zaim assumed the presidency, with Muhsin al 
Barazi as Premier. He did not last long; on August 18, Col. Sami 
Hinnawi staged a second coup d'etat and, after a swift court 
martial, Zaim and Barari were executed. Unlike his predecessor, 
the new dictator was decidedly anti-Egyptian and pro-Iraqi; in 
fact, he almost succeeded in obtaining the approaval of the Pop- 
ular party, which had won the elections in 1949, for direct unifi- 
cation or federation with Iraq. The Fertile Crescent plan was 
about to be realized, to the dismay of the Egyptians and the 
Saudis, and also of Abdullah. The latter saw in the Syrian 
troubles justification, as well as opportunity, for his Greater. Syria 
plan, and he felt that he was being betrayed by- the ambitious 
politicians of Bagdad. He was the leading member of the House 
of Hashim, he was the last leader of the Arab Revolt, and he 
should be the leader of any Arab unity move. Iraq was working 

10 Said Abdullah: "Shukri al Quwwatli and I did not see eye to eye, but 
when Husni az Zaim staged his coup 1 wrote to al Quwwatli inviting him to 
come to Amman and set up a government here. Thereupon Egypt suddenly 
began to shaw an interest in Husni az Zaim; it decorated him with the Order 
of Muhammad AH and overlooked its former friend." My Memoirs Com- 
pleted, 37. 


against him: she had recognized the Gaza government; she advo- 
cated internationalization of Jerusalem; and now she was seeking 
to annex Syria. 

It was not long before the situation in Syria changed again. 
On December 12, 1949 Col. Adib Shishakli staged a third coup; 
he arrested Hinnawi and named Khalid al Azm Premier. One 
of the major issues was the opposition to the Fertile Crescent 
plan. In appreciation of the anti-Hashimi orientation of the new 
regime, Saudi Arabia granted the latest dictator a $6,000,000 loan. 

Peace Feelers 

By the end of 1949 Abdullah found his hopes for his Greater 
Syria plan again threatened. The three coups in Syria had ended 
with an anti-Hashimi government, and his kingdom still lacked 
international recognition. Although the United States had sup- 
ported Transjordan's application for membership in the United 
Nations, it did not itself recognize the new kingdom. Now the 
Arab states were opposing any extension of Abdullah's rule into 
Arab Palestine, and were working actively for the international- 
ization of Jerusalem. Perhaps the road to the realization of his 
dreams lay along the lines of a peace with Israel. 

To begin with, he had opposed the war and had become 
involved in it against his will, through the machinations of his 
enemies. Unlike the other Arab countries, he had welcomed the 
refugees 11 who were the victims of the war, and was willing to 
integrate them into his new kingdom, but their numbers had cre- 
ated untold economic hardships and difficulties for Transjordan. 
Through a peace with Israel he could improve the general eco- 
nomic conditions and perhaps open up new development possi- 
bilities by means of the assistance which he would obtain from 
the United Nations and the United States toward the rehabilita- 
tion of the refugees. Moreover, by concluding a peace with Israel 
the United States might grant recognition of his kingdom, and 
this in turn might make it easier to be admitted to the United 
Nations; above all, he would obtain recognition from Israel for 

11 James Baster, the UN representative who was helping the refugees, re- 
ported: "Of all the Arab countries at present hosts to these unhappy refugees, 
Jordan, which now has over a half of them, has been by far the most hos- 
pitable and the most receptive to the idea of eventually re-settling them where 
they are." "The Economic Problems of Jordan," International Affairs, XXXI, 
31, Jan., 1955. 


his annexation of Arab Palestine. If the Arab states attempted 
to isolate him, he would break through their encirclement with 
a peace with Israel. 

The contacts for negotiation existed; all that was necessary 
was to reactivate them. The venture, of course, included dangers 
and difficulties; he would first have to convince his immediate 
advisers; then he would have to prepare the population on both 
sides of the Jordan; above all, he would have to keep the nego- 
tiations secret from his enemies until the peace was practically 
consummated so that he would not be accused, while he was 
still in the process of negotiating, of surrendering to the Zionists, 
The negotiations, moreover, would undoubtedly be long and 
drawn-out, for the Israelis would not initially be willing to grant 
him such terms as would justify his action in the eyes of the 
Arabs. His practical bent of mind, however, told him that in the 
long run peace with Israel would be the best solution to the 
problem of his enlarged kingdom. It was inevitable that the 
progress of the negotiations would depend to a very. large extent 
not only upon internal Jordanian developments, but also on the 
course of events in the Arab world. 

Israel was also anxious to conclude a peace with Abdullah. 
For her own growth and development, peace was desirable, and 
it was no doubt hoped that, like the armistice, should peace be 
signed with one Arab state the others would follow. A new era 
would open for Israel and for the Middle East in general. What 
sacrifices and concessions the Israelis would be ready to make for 
the first peace treaty depended on Israel's general international 
political position and on the nature of the demands that Abdul- 
lah made. 

There can be no doubt that there were secret negotiations 
between the representatives of Abdullah and the representatives 
of Israel. This is attested to by Glubb, from the Transjordanian 
side, by Eytan, from the Israeli side, and by various news- 
paper reports in Israel, the United States, England and Egypt. 
When these negotiations actually began and when they assumed 
concrete form it is difficult to establish from the available mater- 
ial. It would seem, however, that they started as early as Novem- 
ber 1948, according to the newspaper Haaretz in Tel Aviv and 
the Herald Tribune in New York. But these early talks were only 
preliminary and exploratory, looking more to the armistice 
agreement than to a peace treaty. 


Negotiations for a peace treaty probably began in earnest in 
1949 after the signing of the armistice agreement, and became 
more serious in 1950 when Abdullah began meeting more deter- 
mined resistance from the Arab League to his effort to annex 
Arab Palestine. Eytan reported: 

"Conversations with him [Abdullah] and some of his closest 
advisers were carried on intensively, especially between November 
1949 and March 1950, A draft treaty was prepared and initialed, 
but the King, under the rising pressure of an Arab extremism 
which scared his ministers, was unable in the end to carry it 
through. Desultory talks went on, but after a while it became 
clear that nothing could come of them, despite the personal efforts 
of the King and the concessions which Israel was ready to 

Late in 1948 a decree was issued changing the name of the 
country to the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan. On January 31, 
1949 the United States granted recognition. At the same time 
the United States, whose recognition of Israel had up to that time 
been only de facto, granted her de jure recognition. 

First Jordan Elections 

The year 1950 opened in Jordan with a strong election cam- 
paign waged on both sides of the river, Abdullah's opponents in 
the Arab League could not object to the elections on political 
grounds, but they found a much stronger issue on which to attack 
him. Late in February news came through from Jerusalem, Cairo 
and Amman that Transjordan and Israel were negotiating a 
five-year non-aggression pact. The Arab press, especially the 
Egyptian press, launched a virulent campaign against Jordan and 
its King. This was on the very eve of the twelfth meeting of the 
Arab League Council, which was to be convened in Cairo on 
March 25. 

Premier Abul Huda resigned on March 2; the Egyptian press 
interpreted this as a protest against the proposed pact. The fol- 
lowing day the King appointed Samir Pasha ar Rifai as Premier. 

This, too, was interpreted in the Egyptian press as unofficial 

12 Eytan, The First Ten Years, 42-43. See also Glubb, A Soldier with the 
Arabs, 258, 340-341. Kirk speculated as to the contents and issues of the con- 
versations and negotiations, The Middle East 1945-1950, 309-311. See also the 
report from Amman in The Economist, CLVIII, 142, July 21, 1950. 


notice on Abdullah's part that he was determined to go through 
with the pact. Rifai was not able to form a new government, 
and when Abdullah asked Abul Huda to return, it was viewed, 
again by the Egyptian press, as a complete retreat on Abdullah's 

The attacks on Abdullah became more and more violent as 
the date of the Council meeting and the date of the elections in 
Jordan approached. On March 19, the Cairo daily al Masri, 
commenting on the alleged exchange of friendly letters between 
King Abdullah and Israel's Foreign Minister, Moshe Sharett, 
demanded: "The time has come for the Arab League to cut off 
relations with Transjordan, a country that has betrayed Islam 
and Arab unity and the Arab cause. The time has come to sever 
this decayed member from the body of the Arab world and to 
bury it and heap dung thereon/* 

Jordan's minister to Egypt pleaded with the Egyptian govern- 
ment to stop the anti-Jordan campaign; if it did not, his govern- 
ment would have to sever its association with the Arab League. 
However, it was announced in Amman on the 23rd that the 
Transjordan delegation to the Council's session would consist 
of Minister of Foreign Affairs Ruhi Abdul Hadi, Minister of 
Defense Fawzi al Mulqi, and the Minister of Communications, 
and that three Palestinians would serve as advisers. The follow- 
ing day it was reported that negotiations for the non-aggression 
pact with Israel had been broken off; the belief was expressed 
that they would be resumed after the parliamentary elections 
which were definitely scheduled for April 11. 

The session of the Arab League Council was opened in Cairo 
by the Egyptian Foreign Minister on March 25. The delegations 
of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq were headed by their Premiers; 
the delegation of Saudi Arabia by her Foreign Minister, and that 
of Yemen by her Minister of State. Transjordan was represented 
by Baha Uddin Toukan, her minister to Cairo, pending the 
arrival of the delegation from Amman. At the closed session 
following the official opening, Mustafa Nahas Pasha, the Egyp- 
tian Premier, proposed that a representative of "our sister state 
Palestine" be admitted to the meeting, in accordance with a 
special provision of the Arab League Charter. The implied chal- 
lenge to Abdullah was obvious. Action on the proposal was 
postponed for two days, at the request of the Jordan minister. 


Before the Arab League 

On the 27th the Council formally invited the "All Palestine 
Government," now sitting at Heliopolis near Cairo, to attend the 
sessions. Jordan's reply to this action was an announcement by 
her representative that his country would boycott the current 
session of the League. That same evening King Abdullah issued 
a statement declaring: "I have recently requested our Minister 
to Cairo to protest against the Egyptian press which has been 
attacking Jordan and its King. Indeed the Jordan Government 
has decided not to attend the League meeting as long as this 
malicious campaign continues. An additional factor in determin- 
ing this decision is that the League has called in the repre- 
sentatives of what it calls 'the Government of Palestine/ " Yet 
the next day Toukan told reporters that he had been insructed 
by Amman to attend the League meeting but to withdraw when 
Palestine's incorporation into Jordan and the issue of the Gaza 
government were discussed. No delegation came from Jordan. 

The Council was perturbed by Abdullah's measures in Arab 
Palestine, and on March 29 Toukan was handed an ultimatum 
expiring in three days, demanding that his government clarify 
its attitude toward the League, particularly its refusal to partici- 
pate in its discussions on Palestine, and to explain the absence 
of a representative delegation. At the same time the Council 
postponed taking action on a Lebanese resolution calling for the 
automatic expulsion of any member who signed a separate peace 
with Israel. The two main charges against Abdullah were that 
he was breaking the Arab front by negotiating separately with 
Israel, and that he was annexing Arab Palestine without the 
League's consent. The League was faced with a serious crisis. It 
would appear that Abdullah was ready to give in on the question 
of peace with Israel and to ignore the representatives of the 
Mufti in order to preserve the existence of the League if in return 
he were permitted to proceed with his annexation plans. Some 
of his opponents were satisfied to overlook his annexation moves 
as long as he denounced the separate peace moves. Expediency 
was the deciding factor with both sides. 

On the first of April, Jordan's representative, after denying on 
instructions from Amman that Transjordan had even contem- 
plated signing a final peace with Israel, participated in the dis- 


cussions, and with all the other League members including the 
representative of the "All Palestine Government/' he voted on the 
Lebanese proposal to expel automatically any member who 
signed a separate peace with Israel and to empower the Council 
to recommend punitive measures against any member who vio- 
lated this resolution. 13 In the absence of a delegation from 
Transjordan, Toukan explained that the imminence of the 
parliamentary elections made it impossible for the ministers to 
leave the country. 

Each side had calculated on a different basis. To Abdullah 
the most important and immediate issue was the annexation of 
Arab Palestine; if this were successfully accomplished, he would 
have defied the League, he could later proceed with peace nego- 
tiations from a much stronger position and at a more leisurely 
pace, with the possibility of obtaining better terms. To the 
League, on the other hand, the more decisive issue was the peace 
negotiations with Israel. Should Abdullah agree to a ban on such 
negotiations, he could hardly consolidate his position in Arab 
Palestine, especially since the League had recognized the "All 
Palestine Government" and its representatives were sitting at the 
Council table. It was therefore satisfied with his retreat and was 
not anxious to press him on the question of annexation, or to 
permit the representatives of the "All Palestine Government" to 
raise the issue of the approaching elections. Indeed, Tawfiq as 
Suwaidi, the Premier of Iraq and the chairman of the current 
session, while he bitterly condemned Abdullah's peace negotia- 
tions with Israel, declared, as regards annexation: "King Abdul- 
lah knows that there is no objection to his annexing Arab parts 
of Palestine, but the Arab population must be consulted first." 

The election campaign was in full swing. The lists closed with 
a total of 117 candidates for the 40 seats 57 from Arab Palestine, 
60 from Transjordan. The campaign had been conducted almost 
entirely on a personal basis; party lists were completely lacking; 

13 The resolution was not made public, but the following version was well 
publicized in the Egyptian press: "In accordance with the vital importance of 
the Palestine question to all the Arab states ... the Arab League Council 
unanimously declares: No Arab state possesses the right to negotiate separate 
peace treaties or any political, military or economic agreement with Israel, or 
the right to ratify such an agreement. Any state so doing will be considered 
to have immediately forfeited its membership in the Arab League under 
Clause 18 of the Charter. 

"Furthermore, the Political Committee shall recommend sanctions to be 
taken against any state that may violate the terms of this resolution." 


each candidate published a pamphlet outlining his political and 
social views and giving his life story. Following serious incidents 
in Nablus, where three persons were killed, and in other places, 
the Arab Legion issued an order a few days before the elections 
prohibiting public meetings and the carrying of arms or other 
weapons. The voting took place as scheduled; Abul Huda's 
cabinet resigned and a new eleven-member cabinet, including 
five Palestinians, under the premiership of Said Pasha al Mufti, 14 
was appointed by royal decree. That same day the Arab League 
reaffirmed its resolution of April 12, 1948 as the policy of the 
Arab states. The resolution defined the entry of the Arab armies 
into Palestine as a temporary measure, without any suggestion of 
occupying or partitioning the country, which must be surren- 
dered to its inhabitants after their liberation from the Zionists. 
Non-adherence to this resolution was to be considered a viola- 
tion of the League Charter and subject to sanctions. Transjor- 
dan's representative, who on the previous day had informed the 
Political Committee that his country's policy was to annex Arab 
Palestine, subject to the approval of the recently elected Parlia- 
ment, abstained from voting on the reaffirmation of the resolu- 
tion. In reaffirming the resolution, the Council provided for no 
sanctions, as it had done on the question of a separate peace 
treaty with Israel; it merely decided that if the annexation were 
carried through, a special meeting of the Council would be called 
to consider appropriate action. 

Final Annexation Act 

The time for the final act had arrived. Abdullah was not to 
be deterred by the Arab League's resolution. On April 16 he 
disbanded the House of Notables, and on the next day he 
appointed twenty new members (twice the original number), 
seven of them Palestinians. With the impending opening of the 
new Parliament, Abdullah's opponents began to threaten to expel 
him from the League if he went through with his plans. The 
King challenged the League to expel him. On April 22, during 
a tour of Hebron, he said: "The Arab League has threatened us 

14 Al Mufti, a Circassian, became a member of the Executive Committee in 
1925 After the fall of the Hashim government in 1938, he became governor 
of Amman; in 1941 he was Director of Internal Affairs. From 1944 until his 
appointment as Premier he served in various ministerial capacities. 


with expulsion. When we said that we approved the expulsion 
of whoever abandons the ranks they started to threaten us with 
expulsion a second time when they heard of the unification of 
the territories on the two banks of the Jordan. If expulsion 
comes as a result of unifying the two parts of this besieged nation 
it will be welcome. We do not wish to be of those who oppose 
unity in the name of the Arab League, from which we had hoped 
good would come." 

Parliament met on the 24th. In his speech from the throne, 
Abdullah lashed out at the League on the question of Arab 

"It is a source of satisfaction to me that I should, for the first 
time in the constitutional life of Jordan, open this Parliament, 
which embraces members from both sides of the Jordan a Par- 
liament drawn from the will of one people and one country with 
identical aspirations. 

"My Government considers the resolution adopted by the Po- 
litical Committee of the Arab League Council of April 12, 1948 
as invalidated by the conclusion by the Arab states of a perma- 
nent truce and acceptance afterward of the partition resolution, 
thereby contradicting the aforementioned Political Committee's 

"While we welcome the idea of collective security and of inter- 
Arab economic cooperation on a sound basis, we discern no secur- 
ity for an Arab nation without genuine unification of its com- 
ponent parts wherever possible through the general will of the 
people and without violating any pact or covenant. 

"Conclusion of unification has been accomplished by a meeting 
of this Parliament, which represents both sides of the Jordan, 
without, however, prejudicing the final settlement, which will 
establish Arab rights in matters concerning Palestine. This will, 
in fact, strengthen the defense of a united people and its just 

The same day both houses of Parliament, the House of Depu- 
ties and the House of Notables, in joint session, adopted the 
following resolution: 

"In the expression of the people's faith in the efforts spent by 
His Majesty, Abdullah, toward attainment of natural aspirations 
and basing itself on the right of self-determination and on the 
existing de facto position between Jordan and Palestine and their 
national, natural and geographic unity and their common inter- 
ests and living space, Parliament, which represents both sides of 
the Jordan, resolves this day and declares: 


"First, its support for complete unity between the two sides of 
the Jordan and their union into one state, which is the Hashi- 
mite Kingdom of Jordan, at whose head reigns King Abdullah 
Ibn al Husain, on a basis of constitutional representative gov- 
ernment and equality of the rights and duties of all citizens. 

"Second, its reaffirmation of its intent to preserve the full Arab 
rights in Palestine, to defend those rights by all lawful means in 
the exercise of its natural rights but without prejudicing the final 
settlement of Palestine's just case within the sphere of national 
aspirations, inter-Arab cooperation and international justice."^ 


Although the British had consistently advised caution on the 
Greater Syria plan, they approved Abdullah's efforts to annex 
Arab Palestine even at the risk of displeasing the League. Perhaps 
they had begun to realize the potential danger that the League, 
under Egyptian leadership, posed to their position in the Middle 
East. Whatever their motivation, it is obvious that without Brit- 
ish approval Abdullah would never have gone as far as he did. 
Immediately after the annexation they gave their official blessing. 
On April 27, 1950 the Minister of State, Kenneth Younger, 
announced in the House of Commons: "His Majesty's Govern- 
ment have decided to accord formal recognition to the union. 
They take this opportunity of declaring that they regard the pro- 
visions of the Anglo-Jordanian Treaty of Alliance of 1948 as 
applicable to all the territory included in the union." 16 

The unexpected had happened. Egypt tried to frighten Abdul- 
lah into retreat The anti-Abdullah front was negative in char- 
acter and was not ready to take punitive measures against him. 
Moreover, Iraq would not cooperate. The Political Committee 
was to have met on May 2 to discuss the annexation, but at the 
request of Iraq the meeting was postponed to the 10th, apparently 
in an effort to prevent an open break among the League mem- 
is After quoting the long annexation address to him by both houses of Par- 
liament, Abdullah gave vent to his own feelings in the matter. "It is apparent 
from the foregoing that in truth the Palestine problem is one of ignorance, 
obstinacy, and self-seeking on the part of persons who have throttled their 
homeland until they have almost completely destroyed its patriotic spirit. J 
bear witness to this before God and know that His anger will be mighty. But 
I am not of those who will be embarrassed before God and the tribunal of 
justice by any accusations made against me," My Memoirs Completed, ZZ. 
16 Great Britain, JPJXC, 474, cols. 1137-1138, Apr. 27, 1950. 


bers. When the issue came up for discussion the Jordan delegate, 
the Foreign Minister, walked out in protest. Five days later the 
Committee agreed that the annexation was illegal and violated 
the April 12, 1948 resolution, but it refused to approve the Egyp- 
tion proposal to expel Jordan. But even the vote on the violation 
of the League resolution was not unanimous: Iraq and Yemen 
abstained. Decision on punitive measures was postponed to 
another meeting, set for June 12. Meanwhile it was reported from 
Lebanon and Syria that those two states were opposed to ex- 
pelling Jordan, and on June 11 the Iraqi Premier stated that his 
country would not vote for expulsion. When the issue came up 
for a vote on the 13th, only Saudi Arabia supported the Egyptian 
proposal. In the face of the general unwillingness to take a 
drastic step, the Council adopted a face-saving resolution "to 
treat the Arab part of Palestine annexed by Jordan as a trust in 
its hands until the Palestine case is fully solved in the interests 
of its inhabitants." Abdullah had not only succeeded in annex- 
ing Arab Palestine, but also in defying his opponents in the 
Egypt-dominated Arab League. 

The annexation involved new and great responsibilities for 
Abdullah. It added to his kingdom a great number of people 
whose pattern of life was different in many respects from that of 
the inhabitants of Transjordan. It added several hundred thou- 
sand refugees whose economic and political pressure would be- 
come too heavy for the shoulders of little Transjordan. It exacer- 
bated the antagonism of all Abdullah's old opponents, both 
personal and national. While Abdullah no longer methodically 
pursued the question of peace with Israel after the annexation, 
the absence of that peace made his position precarious. He none- 
theless proceeded to consolidate his gains, and he continued to 
dream of a Greater Syria or some other form of Arab kingdom, 
over which he would preside. Indeed, in November 1950 Abdul- 
lah met with the Syrian Premier, Nazim al Qudsi, and the Syrian 
Defense Minister, Col. Fawzi Silu, and discussed with them the 
plan of Arab unity which al Qudsi had recently presented to the 
various heads of state during his travels in the region. 

Internal Pressures 

It was inevitable that with the addition of the comparatively 
advanced Palestinians to his kingdom, pressure would be brought 


on Abdullah to liberalize the government. Abdullah in fact had 
anticipated this, and during the election campaign had promised 
a constitutional change which would make the cabinet respon- 
sible to the House of Deputies instead of to the King. 

The Arab Legion was expanded, and though very cautiously, 
its ranks were opened to Palestinians. In January 1949 its 
strength in Palestine alone, according to Glubb, rose to 11,143; 
other estimates have been as high as 20,000. With the increased 
strength came a corresponding increase in the British subsidy. 
In 1949/50, for instance, British aid amounted to 3,000,000, an 
increase of 600,000 over the previous year, and during the finan- 
cial year 1950/51 it went up to 5,500,000. 17 The country's 
economic pattern, health, education and the administrative gov- 
ernmental services were overtaxed. Furthermore, they had to be 
modified basically because of the character of the Arabs of Pales- 
tine, which differed so greatly from that of the Transjordanians 
and because of the refugees. 

Whether the government and the King properly understood 
the magnitude of the change and the revolution inherent in the 
new situation is problematic. The consequences of the change 
were, however, disastrous. 

17 Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs, 227; Maurice Moyal, "Post Mortem on 
the Arab League," World Affairs, III, 190-191, Apr., 1949. Talking about the 
financing of the Legion, Glubb said that during the financial year 1948/49 
the British subsidy was 2.5 million. "At the end of the financial year, we had 
spent a little more than 6,000,000. We had, in May 1948, received 250,000 
from the Arab League. Later the Jordan Government itself contributed 
300,000* The balance was eventually paid by Britain. Indeed, there was noth- 
ing else to be done, unless Jordan were to cease to exist. The other Arab 
armies had all retired from the field, and, if Britain had refused her help, the 
Arab Legion would perforce have dissolved. Israel would have advanced to 
the Jordan, and a further half-million Arab refugees would have been thrown 
on the world." A Soldier with the Arabs, 258. 

Chapter XVI 

Eastern and Western Banks 

Palestine had become aware of their political power, and 
they had advanced economically, attaining a fairly high 
standard of living, and they had good prospects for future devel- 
opment. In education, too, they had progressed, and they were 
actively engaged in a struggle for independence. Suddenly they 
found themselves annexed to a population inferior to them polit- 
ically and educationally, and to a country economically backward 
and without prospects for growth. These Palestine Arabs had no 
loyalty to King Abdullah, and neither emotional nor ideological 
attachments to the House of Hashim. Yet even under such cir- 
cumstances it might have been possible if the annexation had 
come about in peacetime and under normal conditions to estab- 
lish a modus vivendi, in time, between the two parts of the king- 
dom, and even though the throne of the House of Hashim might 
not have been too secure, it would not have been exposed to such 
violent shocks as it had received. As it was, the Palestinians had 
just emerged from a defeat at the hands of the Israelis, a defeat 
which they blamed in no small measure on the very symbol of 
their new kingdom Abdullah. They were subjected to internal 
pressure from the old Palestinian Arab leadership, especially 
from the Husaini clan, which had nursed hatred of Abdullah 
for many years; to pressures from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and 
even Iraq; and to pressure from the Soviet Union through local 
communist and other agents. Add to all that the political pres- 
sure of intransigence toward Israel, and it becomes obvious that 
the annexation of Arab Palestine condemned Jordan at once to 
political instability and economic stagnation. 

The Western powers cannot be credited with any constructive 
plans to solve the difficult situation. The British rushed forward 



to give their blessing to the annexation, and the Americans were 
not far behind. The former not only continued to subsidize the 
Arab Legion, giving it ever greater amounts, but they also 
advanced some economic aid in direct grants and interest-free 
loans. The United States also continued to grant economic aid. 
But all the aid combined was not sufficient, nor were the methods 
of its disposal well enough calculated, to meet the needs of the 
country. 1 Politically, both Washington and London followed 
policies which did not dare attack the basic issues, and neither 
took a firm stand. The British were willing to help Jordan, but 
they were not willing until it was too late to antagonize Egypt, 
Jordan's greatest opponent. Jordan's economic future is inevi- 
tably connected with Israel, but neither Britain nor the United 
States took any step to bring about peace, or at least an economic 
modus vivendi between these two new states. 

British Control 

British control of Transjordan, and later of Jordan, expressed 
itself, to the anti-British elements, in a number of obvious instru- 
mentalities. The first was financial assistance for the maintenance 
of the Arab Legion. As described above, the Legion, from a 
somewhat obscure beginning with limited objectives, emerged, 
under British training and leadership and with British equip- 
ment, as the most outstanding military force in the Arab Middle 
East. Since the British controlled the Legion through the 
subsidies which guaranteed its existence, they were sure they 
had an important instrument to support their position in the 
Middle East. Indirect control, however, was not enough; they 
needed concretized measures which would guarantee the Le- 
gion's efficiency and direction. This was achieved through the 
chief of general staff, Lt. Gen. John Bagot Glubb. Although 
Glubb was in the service of Jordan and not of Great Britain, 
and he received his orders from the Jordan Minister of Defense 
and the King of Jordan, he was nevertheless first of all an 
Englishman and safely protected British interests, which he 

1 During the six fiscal years 1950/51-1955/56, British military aid to 
Jordan amounted to 44.9 million, and economic aid in the form of grants 
and interest-free loans amounted to 7.76 million. R. H. S. Grossman, mem- 
ber of Parliament, pointed out in the House of Commons that the British 
were spending 9,000,000 annually on the Arab Legion, and only about 
1,500,000 on economic development. Great Britain, PD.C., 512, col. 91, 
Mar. 18, 1953;-536, col. 679, Jan. 51, 1955; Lt Commerce du Levant- 
Beyrouth-Express, Mar. 28, 1956. 


might have believed coincided with Jordan's interests. Finally, 
there was King Abdullah himself. Not only were the British 
responsible for the very fact that he had become Amir and 
later King of Jordan; not only were the British those who were 
supplying him as well as the Legion with the financial means, 
but Abdullah apparently believed that his future was inseparably 
connected with the British, and regardless of occasional dif- 
ferences, he always followed a pro-British policy. Conversely, the 
British counted on him as their major stalwart in the area. 

After the annexation of Arab Palestine, the enemies of Abdul- 
lah and of the West tried to eliminate all these instrumentalities 
of British control and interest. The British were blamed for 
the Arabs' defeat by Israel (in spite of Britain's many anti-Israel 
moves) and for every other adversity that befell the Arab world 
in general and the Jordanians in particular. Since King Abdul- 
lah was, in Arab eyes, the servant of the British, he was con- 
sidered equally responsible with them. The well-known cries 
of anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism were effectively dinned 
into receptive ears. The clamor was to get rid of every vestige 
of British interests first Abdullah, then Glubb, and, finally, 
British financial assistance. Events in Jordan, from April 1950 
on, progressively undermined the very existence of the king- 
dom and all but eliminated the West from that part of the 
Middle East. 

Succession Issue 

Abdullah's oldest son, Talal, was reportedly anti-British, per- 
haps more out of antagonism to his father, who showed a 
decided preference for Talal's younger brother Naif, than be- 
cause of political ideology. 2 All Talal's associations were with 

2 Glubb stated: "The King's eldest son, the Amir Tellal, was heir to the 
throne. In his lifetime, King Abdulla had been on bad terms with his son. 
As a result, he never allowed the Amir to exercise any public function, and 
he had spent twenty years sitting in his house with nothing to do. The 
politicians had seized upon what was a not unusual type of family father- 
and-son quarrel, and had endeavoured to make political capital out of it. In 
Syria and Egypt, and to some extent in Palestine, Amir Tellal was depicted 
as an Arab patriot who had quarreled with his father because the latter 
was a British tool. This was pure fiction. The Amir's politics were the same 
as the King's: their lack of sympathy was domestic." A Soldier with the Arabs, 
281. Nevertheless, it would not rule out the possibility that Talal, more out 
of spite than political conviction, took an opposite position to that of his 
father and thus became popularly known as anti-British. 


anti-British elements who wanted no British presence in Jordan. 
The British, too, would have preferred that Naif should suc- 
ceed to the throne, but since the constitutional provisions gov- 
erning the succession were modeled after the Western practice, 
Talal would have to succeed his father. There soon emerged 
two factions: one pro-Naif, which was especially strong on the 
eastern side of the Jordan River; the other pro-Talal, centered 
on the western side. Rumors about the secret activities of each 
circulated on both sides. 

That the issue of succession troubled the British was evident 
from an article in the London Economist of July 15, 1950. The 
writer asked what would happen if Abdullah should die or be 
assassinated. Though the crown prince, Talal, was not well 
known, there was good reason to believe that Abdullah's death 
would not cause the collapse of Jordan. The writer concluded: 
"Despite the violent antagonism of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, 
there is an essential stability and reliability about this little 
country which together with its geographic location make it of 
far greater importance to the Arab League and to the defense 
of the Middle East than is the League to Jordan." 

The possibility that the King might be assassinated was widely 
discussed. This is evident not only from the hypothetical ques- 
tion raised by the Economist article, but also from various other 
sources. In August 1950 it was reported in Amman that a 
terrorist organization existed in Jordan among whose members 
were many Palestinian Arabs who opposed the King's political 
policies. Abdullah himself visited Iraq at that time, and he 
reported that he had learned strange things, among them "that 
Shaikh al Ard, the brother of King Abd al Aziz's physician, 
had paid a certain person to murder me." He declared: "I had 
not the slightest doubt that King Abd al Aziz never ordered 
such a thing." He suspected that the plot had been hatched in 
Syria. Regardless of what he said publicly, he was more than 
a little suspicious of the Saudi Arabian dynasty. In reply to 
a statement by Nazim al Qudsi, Premier of Syria, that Abdul- 
lah's visit to Riad in 1948 was useful, Abdullah asked: "How 
can Your Excellency say that was of any benefit when your 
judges and investigators have proved in official and public 
documents that those in Najd sent people and money [to Syria] 
in order to have me assassinated?" His bitterness against the 
Saudis rankled deep in his heart and he reminded al Qudsi; 


"I was driven from it [Hijaz] by Bedouin who have no place 
in their hearts either for you or Palestine. They have finished 
off their work in my native country by sending money to a band 
of mercenaries to murder me in this portion of the Arab 
homeland." 3 

Anti-Abdullah Forces 

The terrorists in Jordan actually took action against the Arab 
Legion, and it was discovered that they were plotting against 
the life of the King. A number of persons suspected of belonging 
to a terrorist organization were arrested. The former Mufti of 
Jerusalem was working against the King from Egypt and openly 
advocating the overthrow of the Jordan government. One of 
the most significant factors in the anti-Abdullah agitation was 
Abdullah al Tel, who in 1950, although he was outside Jordan, 
had been largely responsible for the unrest in the kingdom. 
An interesting picture of him emerges from the reports about 
him from different sources. Glubb reported that Abdullah al 
Tel, who came from Irbid in the north, near the Syrian border, 
and who was well educated, joined the Arab Legion only during 
the second World War. He became an orderly room clerk, but 
later obtained a commission. In March 1948 he was promoted 
to the rank of major, and during the war with Israel commanded 
one of the Legion companies fighting in Jerusalem. On one of 
his visits to Jerusalem, Abdullah was attracted by al Tel; he 
looked at his shoulder and saw his insignia of major, and said 
to him: "I make you a lieutenant colonel." Glubb thought at 
first that this was just a momentary impulse of the King's and 
did not grant the promotion, but Abdullah forced Glubb to 
redeem the promise. 

During the truce al Tel became commander of an im- 
provised battalion in the Old City of Jerusalem. Since the 
spotlight at the time was on Jerusalem and newspaper reporters 
were eager for interviews, they began to call on al Tel and 
he soon became known throughout the world as the commander 
of the Arab forces in the Holy City. In reality he was not; he 
commanded only one battalion. During the second truce, ac- 
cording to Glubb, al Tel began to discuss the political situation 
with prominent people in Jerusalem and he hinted broadly that 

3 Abdullah, My Memoirs Completed, 28, 41. 


if he had been in charge, the hostilities would have ended 
differently; he did not hide his low estimation of the Jordanian 
government. The King still trusted him, however, and wanted 
him to be in Jerusalem. It was therefore agreed that he 
should give up his battalion and become Governor of the city. 
King Abdullah, who looked upon the armistice as the first step 
toward peace, began to explore the possibilities of peace with 
the Israelis, and again according to Glubb, addressed letters to 
certain Jews; these letters were sent through al Tel. 

During the summer of 1949 al Tel became more outspoken 
against the policies of the Jordan government. By then he was 
no longer a member of the Legion, but was under the civil 
authorities. One day, reported Glubb, al Tel came to see him 
for advice. Should he resign from government service? He would 
be willing to stay on if he were given the rank of brigadier. 
Glubb told him that that was out of the question. Shortly after- 
wards al Tel resigned and returned to Irbid. Meanwhile, the 
Egyptian government, which was carrying on a violent anti- 
Abdullah campaign, heard that al Tel had resigned and offered 
him a salary if he would come to live in Egypt. Al Tel accepted 
and arrived in Egypt at the end of January 1950. He immediately 
presented to the press alleged photostatic copies of secret letters 
from Abdullah which he had been entrusted to deliver. He 
also gave some interviews in which he accused the British 
officers of the Legion of preventing their units from fighting, 
in order to help the Jews, and he declared that Abdullah was 
a traitor to the Arab cause. He asserted that the King alone 
was responsible for the loss of Palestine, and demanded that the 
Arab League send a court of inquiry to Amman to investigate 
the treachery of the Jordan government and the Arab Legion. 

Walter Eytan, the Director General of the Israel Foreign 
Office, reported that al Tel, who was accustomed to delicate 
missions, had been detailed by the King to meet the Israelis 
in no-man's land and escort them to Shuneh where the armistice 
negotiations between Israel and Transjordan were actually 
taking place early in 1949. "At the Shuneh talks he [al Tel] 
stood out from the rest of the King's advisers, maintaining an 
attitude of utter cynicism, yet helping actively to secure agree- 
ment with Israel. He seemed to be wholly without illusions 
about the Arabs, the British and everyone else. He spoke about 
the King, even in the King's presence, in a way which could 


be described only as contemptuous, and yet he seemed to feel 
affection for him and to be genuinely anxious to safeguard his 
interests." 4 

Statements from such an adventurer, exaggerated by the Egyp- 
tian press and directed at a discontented population, especially 
on the western side of the Jordan, could only result in disaster. 

Cabinet Shifts 

Other factors were also present. There was friction between 
the King and the Arab leaders of the western bank as to the 
character and nature of the government. Political parties in 
the Western sense, with platforms and programs, were unknown; 
election to Parliament was on a personal basis; cabinets were 
in the service of the King and their tenure depended on his 
pleasure. After the annexation, the Palestinian elements de- 
manded that the cabinet be made responsible to Parliament 
rather than to the King. Abdullah strongly resisted anything 
that would modify his prerogatives although before the elec- 
tions he had made a gesture indicating that this basic consti- 
tutional provision would be changed in favor of Parliament. As 
a matter of fact, Abdullah's trust in his own governments was 
not unlimited, and he methodically shifted premiers and min- 
isters in order to command a greater degree of obedience, as 
well as for greater flexibility in adjustment to changed condi- 
tions and issues. The ministerial crisis in October 1950 was a 
case in point. 

The previous month Israel had established a colony in Naha- 
rayim in the Jordan valley, just south of the Sea of Galilee, in 
territory allocated to her in the Rhodes armistice. The action 
caused great excitement in Amman, and Glubb was urged to 
use the Arab Legion to oust the Israelis. When he did not 
respond, the newspapers accused him of being a pro-Israeli 
agent of the British. The Jordanian cabinet was divided on 
the issue, and the Foreign Minister, Muhammad Pasha Shukairi, 
criticized the King and Glubb. Abdullah demanded Shukairi's 
resignation. On October 7, Premier Said al Mufti submitted 
the resignation of the entire cabinet. After seven days of nego- 
tiations, al Mufti organized a new cabinet (five Palestinians 

4 Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs, 255-257; Eytan, The First Ten Years, 
41; Kirk, The Middle East 1945-1950, 310. 











and six Transjordanians) which was a compromise between 
Abdullah's demands and al Mufti's conditions: Shukairi was 
removed from the Foreign Ministry but was retained in the 
cabinet, as Minister of Justice. 

The contest between Parliament and Abdullah continued 
unabated. The Palestinian deputies, supported by the press, 
attacked Abdullah and his policies. Press censorship was reim- 
posed, some political leaders were exiled, others were arrested 
and tried. All of these measures, including the cabinet reshuffle, 
accomplished little. The new cabinet ordered Glubb to take 
reprisal measures against the Israelis for occupying Naharayim. 
The site finally chosen for the action was kilometer 78, on the 
Arabah road between Elath and Beersheba; Glubb was ordered 
to block the road to Israeli traffic. On December 3 the Israelis 
knocked out an Arab Legion armored car and cleared the 
road by force; the United Nations ordered a cease-fire. The King 
immediately issued orders for the Legion to withdraw and he 
dismissed the cabinet. On the following day, Samir Pasha ar 
Rifai formed a new government. 5 Relations between Parliament 
and the King's new cabinet became worse. During the debate 
on the new budget, the deputies employed tactics which pre- 
vented its adoption. The underlying issue was British friendship 
and alliance, which the King told the opposition leaders he 
could not give up, on the ground that without them Jordan 
had no future. The opposition persisted, and the King and 
Premier resorted to the constitutional provision to break the 
impasse; on May 3, 1951 Abdullah dismissed Parliament and 
announced that new elections would be held within three 

Now the issue was the royal prerogative. In order to prevent 
it from becoming a major campaign issue, Abdullah suddenly 
promised that after the elections, which were to be held on 
both sides of the Jordan and which were scheduled for August 
29, an amendment to the constitution would be introduced 

5 R. H. S. Grossman, "Israel and Jordan/' The New Statesman and Nation, 
Feb. 17, 1951; Esmond Wright, "Abdallah's Jordan: 1947-1951," Middle East 
Journal, V, 458459, Autumn, 1951; M. Perlmann, "Middle East Review of 
Events/' Middle Eastern Affairs, I, 327, Nov., 1950. Under pressure, Abdullah 
permitted an opposition party, the National Front, to organize; its leader 
was Sulaiman Nabulsi and it issued a publication, al Mithaq. It is note- 
worthy that Nabulsi became a member of the new ar Rifai cabinet; simi- 
larly, Anwar Bey Khatib, who had been dismissed as head of the Jerusalem 
municipality for opposing Abdullah's policies, became Minister of Trade. 


making the government responsible to Parliament instead of 
to the King. 

Abdullah's Assassination 

The question of the succession first came up in mid-May 
1951. King Abdullah left for a state visit to Turkey and on 
the 15th his oldest son, Amir Talal, was sworn in as acting 
king. The very next day Talal was taken ill and left for 
Beirut, and his brother, Amir Naif, was sworn in as acting king. 
At the end of the month it was officially reported that Talal 
was suffering from a nervous breakdown. Talal's illness dis- 
turbed Iraq, and early in June the Regent of that country, 
Amir Abdul Illah, and the Premier, Nuri as Said, met with 
King Abdullah in Beirut to discuss the question of succession. 
A communique issued after the meeting stated that Talal re- 
mained heir to the throne; nevertheless, rumors of a rift between 
the King and Talal persisted. On July 10 the latter, on the 
advice of his doctors, left for Geneva for a five-week stay. Mean- 
while, the relations between the King and some of the Arab 
leaders on the western side of the Jordan became more and 
more strained. Abdullah was warned of the danger of assassina- 
tion, but, according to some of those who were close to him, 
refused to take the threats seriously. His bodyguard, however, 
was doubled and every precaution was taken against a possible 
attack. 6 On July 20, 1951, as he was entering the Dome of the 
Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem for the Friday services, he 
was shot to death. 

Thus ended abruptly the career of one of the most spectacular 
and colorful personalities in the Middle East The one Arab 
leader who, though himself a product of the desert and subject 
to its influences, but nevertheless capable of appreciating the 
vital role which the West must play in the Arab renaissance, 
was removed from the scene. The one Arab leader who was 
capable of realizing that a large part of the Arab difficulties 
stemmed from their own shortcomings and that they must face 
the realities and give up daydreaming was not permitted by 
the extremists to pursue his course. With his passing, the West, 
and even more, the Arab Middle East, was deprived of a leader 
who looked forward constructively toward the future. In the 

6 Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, 165. 


words of Winston Churchill, "not only was he the champion 
of Arab rights but he always sought that reconciliation between 
the Arabs and the Jews, the Arabs and the Israelis, which is 
the foundation of all future hopes in Palestine/' 7 

Talal Versus Naif 

The first question to be faced was that of succession. Since 
Talal was in Geneva, his brother Naif was proclaimed regent. 
Premier ar Rifai submitted his resignation on July 25, and 
Naif called on Tawfiq Abul Huda to form a new government. 
A fierce struggle between the two brothers and their supporters 
broke out. Abdullah's old pro-British followers, concentrated 
on Jordan's eastern bank, supported Naif; anti-British elements 
on the western side of the river backed Talal. 

The police, meanwhile, were rounding up suspects in con- 
nection with the King's assassination; among those arrested were 
Abdullah's traditional enemies, although al Tel and the former 
Mufti of Jerusalem both denied any connection with the crime. 
The government took vigorous steps to bring the murderers 
to quick justice. On August 1, it set up a special committee 
composed of three Arab Legion officers (Brig. Abdul Qadir 
Pasha al Jundi, deputy chief of general staff, presiding; Col. 
Habas al Majali and Maj. AH al Tabara) to try those accused 
of conspiring to kill the King; no appeal was to be permitted 
from the court's decision. Ten days later Premier Abul Huda 
announced that ten persons including three relatives of the 
former Mufti would go on trial, two in absentia, for the King's 
murder. 8 The trial opened on the 18th. Abdullah al Tel was 
named as the chief conspirator, and Mussa al Husaini as the 
chief conspirator in Jordan. The prosecution submitted an 
alleged confession by the latter that the assassination of the 
King was the first phase of a plot aimed at eliminating the 
Hashimites. With unprecedented speed the special court sen- 
tenced to death, on August 28, six of the ten accused, including 
the two in absentia; the four others were freed. 

7 Great Britain, P.D.C., 491, cols. 32-33, July 23, 1951. 

8 The accused were Dr. Mussa Abdullah al Husaini, Tawfiq Salah al 
Husaini, and Dr. Daud al Husaini, relatives of the Mufti; Abd Muhammad 
Okke, Zakaria Mahmud Okke, Abdul Kadir Farahat, Rev. Ibrahim Khuri 
Ayad and Abdullah al Kaluti; Col. Abdullah al Tel and Mussa Ahmad 
Ayyubi in absentia. 



King Talal and Glubb Pasha on the occasion of the former's return 
from Europe Amman airport, May 1952 


The fight for the throne went on unabated. On August 7 
Deputy Premier Said al Mufti flew to Geneva to see Talal; 
two days later he announced that the throne would remain 
vacant until it was known whether Talal could become king. 
The struggle, however, was not only between Naif and Talal; 
it was also between Jordan's Arab neighbors. Late in August, 
as the day of the parliamentary elections approached, the tug- 
of-war for the disposal of the tiny desert kingdom intensified. 
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria sought to annex Jordan to Syria. 
The major motive power was Adib Shishakli, dictator of Syria. 
Iraq, with British backing, wanted Jordan's existence preserved, 
or, if that were impossible, to have the country united with Iraq. 
Shishakli, after conferring with King Ibn Saud, advocated a 
plebiscite in Jordan, supervised by the Arab League, to deter- 
mine the country's future. This would have eliminated British 
influence and interference, and placed the issue under the 
dictation of Egypt, which dominated the League. In Amman 
it was reported that a deal had been made, with Egyptian ap- 
proval, between Syria and Saudi Arabia, under which the latter 
would get southern Jordan and the port of Aqaba if Syria 
succeeded in annexing northern Jordan. The Iraqis, alarmed at 
the Syrian maneuvers, became increasingly active within Jordan; 
it was reported that they had sent large sums of money to elect 
deputies favorable to a union with Iraq. However, the elections of 
August 29 resulted in no radical changes in the composition of 
the House of Deputies. Amir Naif appointed the twenty-man 
Senate, only seven of whom came from western Jordan. 

The execution of the sentences of those implicated in Abdul- 
lah's murder proceeded with extraordinary speed. On Septem- 
ber 3, Naif, as Regent, confirmed the death sentences. The 
execution immediately became part of the struggle between the 
pro-British and anti-British forces. A concerted effort was made 
by various elements in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other 
Muslim countries to persuade Naif to commute the sentences; 
the pro-British elements felt that the execution would act as a 
deterrent and would re-establish the authority and power of 
the King. On September 4 the four were hanged.* 

A real dilemma now confronted the British and their Iraqi 

9 The testimony of Sir Alec Kirkbride, the British diplomatic representa- 
tive in Jordan, put the responsibility for the speedy carrying out of the sen- 
tences on British pressure: "The four principals were condemned to death 
in due course, and much to everyone's surprise the sentences were executed. 


friends. Should they insist that Talal was not fit to rule and 
have Naif proclaimed King instead, thus antagonizing all the 
anti-British elements and playing directly into the hands of 
Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and perhaps precipitating the 
dismemberment of Jordan? Or should they permit Talal to 
become king, thereby placating the anti-British elements but 
at the same time preventing the elimination of Jordan, in the 
hope tjiat once he was on the throne he might become more 
cooperative? The decision was in favor of Talal, and in spite 
of Naif s resistance 10 Talal was proclaimed King on September 5, 
but only after Dr. Jamil Tutunji, Minister of Health and Social 
Affairs, had announced, on his return from Switzerland, that 
the Amir's treatment had been successfully terminated. The 
cabinet of Abul Huda resigned, according to constitutional 
policy, but the King requested the Premier to form a new gov- 
ernment. Five days later Amir Husain, the sixteen-year-old son 
of Talal, was proclaimed Crown Prince, an act which was aimed 
at stopping Naif from attempting to gain the throne. 

The new government lost no time in pressing for reforms, 
and on September 16 the Premier asked for a constitutional 
change which would make the cabinet responsible to Parliament 
rather than to the throne. Talal also wasted no time. Through 
formal visits to countries hostile to the House of Hashim, and 
by other means, he began a campaign to bring Jordan's policy in 
line with Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and away from Great 
Britain and Iraq. On January 8, 1952 he gave his full approval 

This fact was due largely to my intervention. One of the principal reasons 
for the popularity of political crime in the Arab world is the bad habit 
those in authority have of commuting death sentences for political murders 
to life imprisonment, with the knowledge that the guilty men will; sooner or 
later, be released under the terms of some amnesty. Every possible pressure 
to ensure that this pattern was followed in the present case was brought 
to bear after the trial of the four men was over, and it took all my in- 
fluence to bolster up the determination of the Jordanian minister and the 
Amir Naif, the late King's second son who was acting as regent for his 
brother, to hang the killers. I am normally not in favor of capital punish- 
ment, but in this case I did feel strongly that earthly vengeance was called 
for/' A Crackle of Thorns, 167. 

10 Naif was the honorary commander and Habas al Majali was the com- 
mander of the Hashimi regiment. Majali, with other officers of the regiment, 
planned, the day before Talal's coronation, to surround the building where 
the government was to meet and force it to enthrone Naif instead of Talal. 
Glubb learned of the plot and immediately informed Abul Huda about it. 
Maiali was removed from the command of the regiment and named to a 
military administrative post; he was later sent on police duty to the Maan 



to the new constitution which made the government answerable 
to Parliament and not to the King. 11 Premier Abul Huda 
warned in a radio broadcast against attempts that were being 
made, at home and abroad, to undermine the kingdom; there 
was no doubt that he meant Iraq, for the previous December a 
majority of Parliament, meeting in Amman, had indicated 
that they favored a Jordan-Iraq merger. On January 13, in a 
special secret session of Parliament, the Premier succeeded in 
getting the deputies to shelve the proposal. 12 Abul Huda him- 
self went to Syria and Saudi Arabia to try to persuade them to 
come to Jordan's assistance* 

Talal was not well; he suffered a relapse on January 20, 1952 
and returned to Switzerland. He came home early in February, 
reputedly improved, but on May 18 he and his Queen and two 
sons suddenly left for Europe. It soon became evident that he 
would not be able to exercise his royal powers, and the question 
of succession again threatened to became a disruptive issue. 
On June 3 Abdul Illah, the Regent of Iraq, arrived in Amman 
to assist in dealing with the question of Talal's incapacity (and 
perhaps safeguard Iraqi interests). The following day the cab- 
inet declared that Talal's health had worsened and that it had 
been decided to establish a regency council to exercise his con- 
stitutional rights. Twenty-four hours later Abul Huda announced 
that the King's health had taken such a pronounced turn for the 
worse that a secret session of Parliament had been called to con- 
sider the situation. The next day Talal cabled the Premier that he 
was returning to Amman. 

Naif, meanwhile, was fishing in troubled waters; he hoped 

11 Article 51 of the new constitution provided: "The Prime Minister to- 
gether with the Ministers are collectively responsible before the House of 
Deputies for matters of general policy of the state. In addition each Min- 
ister is responsible before the House of Deputies for matters affecting his 
ministry." Article 53 stated that the House of Deputies was to vote con- 
fidence in the Council of Ministers or in any one of the Ministers. Should 
the House of Deputies withhold confidence from the Council of Ministers 
by a two-thirds majority, the Council of Ministers must resign. Similarly 
when no-confidence was voted an individual Minister he must resign. The 
Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Constitu- 
tion {Amman, 1952). 

12 Full text of broadcast in Middle Eastern Affairs, III, 53-54, Feb., 1952. 
Curiously, the advocates of union with Iraq were the Palestinians, while the 
government of Abul Huda, tried to obtain assistance from Syria and Saudi 
Arabia to prevent a union with Iraq. The Palestinians* motivation was pri- 
marily economic and not political, for theysaw in union with Iraq a solution 
to their plight. 


that while Talal and his family were out of the country he 
might gain the throne. At least that was the charge the Premier 
made against him on June 6. 13 

The situation became murkier. Naif, reportedly at the request 
of Talal, left suddenly for Lausanne, where the King was under 
treatment. The Premier of Iraq, Nuri as Said, also rushed to 
Lausanne after Iraq's Regent charged Jordanian officials with 
having mishandled the entire affair; he arrived on June 18. 
Four days later, apparently fearing to leave Talal in the hands 
of Naif and Nuri as Said, Abul Huda appeared in Switzerland. 
Then, unexpectedly, Talal returned to Amman, on July 3. The 
regency council continued to exercise the royal prerogatives, 
since Talal was still considered ill. 

Husain Becomes King 

On August 11, by unanimous decision of an extraordinary 
session of both houses of Parliament, Talal was dethroned and his 
son was declared King. The regency council was to exercise the 
royal prerogatives until Husain reached his eighteenth birthday. 

The death of Abdullah not only removed one of the staunch- 
est pro-British personalities in the Middle East and shook the 
very foundations on which British influence and policy were 
based, but the subsequent struggle between his two sons and 
their supporters inside and outside of Jordan further weakened 
the British position in Jordan and had a decidedly adverse 
effect on the country itself. The modification of the constitution 
reduced the King's powers to a large extent, and it strengthened 
the powers of Parliament, which was bound to be increasingly 
dominated by the Palestinian Arabs and the anti-Hashimite 
elements in Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In spite of the sum- 
mary and speedy justice meted out to the convicted conspirators, 
the prestige of the anti-British forces was greatly enhanced, while 
the importance of the eastern side of the Jordan declined. The 
anti-British extremists had succeeded through terrorism in 
eliminating one of the important British assets in the Middle 
East. That was only the first step; others were to follow. 

13 Abul Huda declared that Naif was intriguing from Beirut to seize the 
throne, and that he had made a similar attempt while he was Regent, be- 
government of Abul Huda tried to obtain assistance from Syria and Saudi 
tween Abdullah's death and Talal r s return from Europe. See footnote 10 


It would seem reasonable to expect that the British, in view 
of developments all over the Middle East, would have re-evalu- 
ated their policy and re-examined their methods. Now that 
Abdullah was gone and anti-British elements were gaining 
control, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia were becoming the domi- 
nant forces, was it wise to continue to prop up an artificial state 
by subsidizing the Arab Legion, whose loyalty and effectiveness 
might be questioned? Would it not have been wiser to withdraw 
completely from the area and leave the Arabs of the neighboring 
countries to their own devices? 

The British continued to act as if nothing had happened in 
Jordan. They went on building their policy on the Arab Legion, 
on not antagonizing Egypt, on being severe with Israel. To 
counteract American-fostered Saudi Arabia, as well as to defend 
the Middle East against the Soviet Union, they adopted the 
American-formulated "northern tier" scheme and organized the 
Bagdad Pact as a new instrumentality for maintaining British 
influence and position in the Middle East through the leader- 
ship in the Pact of the supposedly pro-British Iraqis. 

Egypt and Glubb 

While Jordan was being bedeviled by the question of succes- 
sion and her orientation in the Arab world, events in Egypt 
were also moving rapidly. A "Free Officers" group plotted and 
successfully executed a revolution. The officers forced King 
Faruq to abdicate, and in a spirit of intensified nationalism they 
promised a thorough revamping of Egyptian life. The extrava- 
gant slogans on foreign policy and internal reforms based on a 
sweeping "house cleaning" which the Naguib-led but Nasser- 
dictated officers' group broadcast to the Egyptian people could 
not but affect all the neighboring Arab countries. It is possible 
that as early as October 1952 there were some Arab Legion 
officers who saw themselves cast in the role of the liberators of 
Jordan, charged with fulfilling the same revolutionary task as 
the "Free Officers" of Egypt. 14 However, their immediate target 

14 On Oct. 19, 1952 the former Arab Legion officer, Col. Abdullah al Tel, 
reported in Cairo that an underground "liberal officers' group" had been 
organized in Jordan along the lines of the Egyptian army group that over- 
threw King Faruq. He emphasized, however, that the discontent was with 
British domination of Jordan, and particularly with Brig. John Glubb Pasha, 
whose ouster was being demanded. 


was not King Husain, but the chief of the general staff of the 
Arab Legion, Maj. Gen. John Bagot Glubb. 

Glubb was the symbol of the foreign power which dominated 
the Legion and Jordan's entire economic and political life. The 
Jordanians felt they could not be really free and independent 
as long as a British representative controlled the Legion. The 
issue of Glubb was the most effective emotional appeal for 
arousing the masses against the regime which was trying to 
maintain itself through the Arab Legion and its chief of general 

Personal factors were also involved. Many of the younger Arab 
officers in Jordan felt, especially after the Palestine war, that 
Glubb was responsible for restraining the Legion from military 
action against Israel during and after the war, and that he was 
responsible, too, for their own subordinate positions. Had it 
not been for Glubb, they believed, they would not only have 
been promoted to higher positions, but each one was sure he 
would have reached the top command. 15 

These factors combined, especially after the assassination of 
Abdullah and the removal of Naif, to make Glubb the major 
issue in Jordanian politics. That the British should have fore- 
seen what was coming and not have been so shocked and sur- 
prised when it did come is one more indication of how inept 
British policy in Jordan was. 

With the proclamation of Husain as king, Tawfiq Abul Huda 
submitted his resignation as premier; the regency council im- 
mediately requested him to form a new cabinet. Some of the 
old familiar personalities were now replaced by younger Pales- 
tinian Arabs. The new government lifted the ban on political 
parties, which meant that political agitation could be resumed, 
and promised to scrap the emergency regulations. On October 10, 
1952 a general amnesty was proclaimed for all prisoners held 
under the special emergency regulations. But all these gestures 
were of no avail; on November 12, when the Premier, for the 
first time in the history of Jordan, asked for a parliamentary 
vote of confidence, seventeen members, mostly from west Jordan, 

15 It has been definitely established that the primary reason for Col. al 
Tel's resignation from the Legion and his ultimate departure from Jordan 
was notcontrary to his assertions because of differences between himself 
and Glubb over policy toward Israel, but because of personal friction. The 
relations between Glubb and his subsequent successor, Maj. Gen Ali Abu 
Nuwar, were also characterized by personal friction. 


walked out in protest. Two days later demonstrations demand- 
ing Abul Huda's resignation took place in the west bank cities- 
the Old City of Jerusalem, Nablus and Ramallah; the Legion 
had to be called out to disperse the rioters. 

Economic Efforts 

During the regency reign, an effort was made to attack some 
of Jordan's economic problems. Early in 1953 the Minister of 
Commerce and Industry, Khulusi al Khairi, outlined a program 
for developing the country's resources: 1) irrigation projects, 
the most important the $60,000,000 Yarmuk scheme on the 
Jordan-Syrian border; 2) increase of food production by 40 per 
cent through special loans to farmers; 3) exploitation of mineral 
resources; 4) encouragement of local industries by mobilizing 
capital for their development; and 5) enlargement of the Aqaba 

In February a delegation was sent to London to discuss ways 
of implementing the program, and on March 9 it was officially 
announced that the British government had offered to cooperate 
in the five-year economic development plan. Meanwhile the 
British would make available financial assistance to the amount 
of 1,250,000 for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 1953. Of 
this, 500,000 was to be in the form of an interest-free loan, and 
the other 750,000 an outright grant. At the end of the month 
the government also announced that it had signed an agreement 
with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, 
for a $40,000,000 hydroelectric irrigation development program 
in the Yarmuk River valley. This would have brought under 
cultivation some 95,000 acres and would have helped rehabili- 
tate some 20,000 refugee families. These efforts displeased the 
nationalists, and on April 22 the opposition members in the 
House of Deputies demanded the rejection of the State budget 
because it relied on foreign aid: British financial assistance, die 
American Point Four program, and the United Nations. 

On the 2nd of May, King Husain, having reached legal age, 
was enthroned. Premier Abul Huda again submitted his resig- 
nation. The new government, under Fawzi al Mulqi, formed 
on the 5th, immediately came under heavy pressure from the 
opposition to build a more solid Arab foundation for the 
country's economic and financial structure, and not to depend 


exclusively on Western assistance. In September it was an- 
nounced that a mission had left for Iraq and Saudi Arabia to 
seek financial aid to ease the economic situation. 

Financial Structure 

Jordan's economic difficulties were reflected in the balance 
of trade: while exports remained practically stationary between 
the years 1948/1954, averaging about 2,500,000 annually, im- 
ports rose from about 10,000,000 in 1948 to about 20,000,000 
in 1954, and the deficit rose from about 8,000,000 in 1948 to 
17,000,000 in 1954. The country became increasingly dependent 
on outside assistance. The International Bank Mission reported 
that in 1954 foreign grants and loans accounted for no less than 
13,800,000 of Jordan's total foreign exchange receipts of 24,- 
300,000; those made directly to the government totaled 10,600,- 
000, compared to government receipts from all sources of 

Great Britain supplied most of the grants; the annual British 
contribution rose steadily: in 1950/51 it was 4,898,000; in 
1951/52 it went up to 7,200,000,. and in 1953/54 to 8,537,000. 
In August 1952 the Jordan government established a develop- 
ment board, under the presidency of the Premier, to plan and 
supervise long-range programs of economic development. The 
board evolved a five-year plan, and the British government in- 
formed Jordan that it would start to cooperate with the five-year 
plan as of April 1, 1953. Beginning with that year the British 
government contributed, in addition to the regular grant-in-aid 
which was primarily for the maintenance of the Arab Legion, 
additional sums averaging about 1,500,000, of which 1,000,000 
was an interest-free loan to be spent on specified agreed projects, 
and the other half million pounds a direct grant to help defray 
the general budget deficit. In spite of the armistice with Israel 
and the anticipated peace, the strength of the Legion kept 
increasing. At the end of 1950 it was estimated to have been 
about 14,000; there were, at the beginning of 1951, about 2,000 
reservists, and the government decided to recruit about 4,000 
additional reservists from the National Guard. At the end of 
that year the strength of the Legion had increased to about 
18,000 regulars and 4,000 police. During 1953 the regular forces 
reached the 20,000 mark. 


The extreme economic hardships stemmed primarily from 
the refugees who on the one hand depressed wages and inflated 
the labor market, while on the other hand they deprived the 
country of income from exports, since the increased population 
consumed the cereal surpluses that were normally exported. In 
1950, for instance, Jordan exported 271,000 tons of wheat; in 
1954 none was exported. Even the comparatively low standard 
of living could not be maintained without foreign aid and loans. 
As to the economic outlook, the International Bank Mission 
expressed the opinion that "even with foreign aid Jordan's 
resources cannot be developed to the point where they will 
provide a living even for all the present population and their 
children, much less for the future population as it will grow over 
the years/' 16 

Under such conditions, and keeping in mind the relation- 
ship between Jordan and the other Arab countries, as well as 
the state of cooperation between the Arab countries in general 
and the "have" and "have not" countries in particular, one 
must come to the conclusion that the announcement that a 
Jordan mission was going to the two major oil-producing Arab 
states to seek financial aid to replace Western assistance was 
hardly taken seriously even by those who made the announce- 

Anti-Western Agitation 

Since the armistice agreements between the Arab countries 
and Israel were not replaced by formal peace treaties and the 
armistices became the permanent bases of relationship, the fric- 
tion between the two sides became more intense. It was inevitable 

16 International Bank Mission, Economic Development of Jordan, 5, 55, 
64-69, 458-459; Baster, "The Economic Problems of Jordan," International 
Affairs, XXXI, 30, Jan., 1955; Raphael Patai (ed.), Jordan (New Haven, 
1957), 148 ff.; Great Britain, PJ>.C., 512, cols. 90-91, Mar. 9, 1953;-520, col. 
118, Nov. 16, 1953; The Economist, CLXI, 688, Sept. 22, 1951. 

As for the possibility of industrial development, the International Bank 
Mission declared that the limited local supply of industrial raw materials 
of suitable quality, the high cost of power and the small size of the Jordan 
market seriously restricted the scope of industrialization. High transport 
costs precluded any industrial expansion that required imported raw mate- 
rials and a market abroad. Although there was a noticeable expansion in 
manufacture and there were some possibilities for limited future develop- 
ment, the Mission concluded that it could not be said that there were 
extensive fields in which expansion was possible. Economic Development of 
Jordan, 19. 


that the greatest tension would be in those places which were in 
closest proximity to Israel. With Abdullah, who was a moderat- 
ing influence, eliminated, the subsequent more aggressive tone 
of Jordan's Parliament and the Palestinian deputies, and the 
rise of the more extreme elements, the borders with Israel became 
grave danger spots. Incidents of infiltration became more fre- 
quent. As peace receded farther into the distance, as economic 
difficulties intensified and the Arabs' threats increased, the 
Israelis became more jittery. This was particularly true of those 
in the border settlements. After suffering a number of outrages 
on Israeli lives, property and security committed by infiltrators 
from Jordan, the Israelis retaliated, on October 15, by raiding 
the village of Qibya in Jordan, twenty miles southeast of Jeru- 
salem, killing fifty-three persons, among them women and chil- 
dren who were in no way responsible for the infiltration. It was 
a concentrated military action, against what the Israelis called 
a marauders' base. 

The attack on Qibya produced a strong reaction from the 
Western powers, in addition, of course, to the protest of the 
Arab countries. The Foreign Ministers of the United States, 
Great Britain and France, then meeting in London, decided to 
request the Security Council to take up the issue of the Israel- 
Jordan border tension. This did not prevent the anti-Western 
agitators from arousing the Jordanian population. 17 On October 
21, 1953 demonstrators in Amman, shouting slogans denouncing 
colonialism, smashed windows in the U. S. Information Service 
building, wrecked an American Embassy car, and marched on 
the American Point Four offices. Yet on November 16 the British 
government announced that for the year beginning April 1 it 
was increasing to 2,300,000 its economic assistance to Jordan 
(750,000 an outright grant and the rest an interest-free loan). 
Foreign observers, watching the agitation at close range, were 
reported to have believed that Moscow had marked Jordan as 
the focus of a campaign of subversion and propaganda in the 
Middle East. 

Iraqi Maneuvers 

Pressure on the young King was exerted from all directions. 

17 Eytan, The First Ten Years 106-109; "Israel-Jordan Border Tension," 
Middle Eastern Affairs, IV, 385-389, Dec., 1953. 


It was reported that Queen Zein, Talal's wife, was anti-Iraq and 
was trying to influence her son to develop closer relations with 
Saudi Arabia. On January 23, 1954 King Husain met King Saud 
at the border town of Badnah. The Premier of Iraq, Fadil al 
Jamali, declared that Jordan could not be viable unless she 
were united with Iraq. Suddenly the whole issue of union with 
Iraq began to agitate the country. The pro-Iraqi elements 
became alarmed at the King's possible rapprochement with 
Saudi Arabia, and in the middle of February the Premier of 
Iraq suddenly arrived in Amman, reportedly to try to convince 
the King that Iraq had no intention of taking over Jordan, and 
to induce him to disregard the Queen Mother's efforts on 
behalf of Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, Adib Shishakli, the 
dictator of Syria, was working strenuously to prevent a Jordan- 
Iraq union. In order to balance his meeting with King Saud 
and not arouse the pro-Iraqi elements in Jordan, Husain went 
to Bagdad late in February for a four-day visit. 

Egypt's domination of the Arab League and her efforts to 
oust Great Britain from the Suez Canal zone converted the 
League into one of the most outspoken anti-Western instru- 
mentalities. Cairo advocated a policy of neutralism, which 
meant closer relations with the Communist bloc. Iraq, on the 
other hand, while in general advocating Arab unity, was more 
inclined toward the West. To Iraq, Arab unity meant Hashimi 
unity: first a union of Iraq and Jordan, then perhaps union of 
Iraq with Syria and Lebanon. The Iraqis knew that immediate 
realization of their ambitions was not possible in the prevailing 
situation and they began to draw away from the Arab League. 
When Turkey and Pakistan started to lay the foundations for 
the Dulles-proposed and British-sponsored "northern tier" plan, 
and Pakistan asked for American military aid, Iraq indicated 
that she might join the group. Saudi Arabia, because of dynastic 
rivalry and very strong anti-British feeling, and Syria, because 
of Shishakli's fear of Iraqi domination, lined up behind Egypt. 
However, a rebellion of the army on February 25 forced Shi- 
shakli to resign and flee the country; in Egypt, on the same day, 
Lt. Col. Gamal Abd an Nasser ousted Gen. Muhammad Naguib 
and took over control of the ruling Revolutionary Command 
Council. These events reduced the immediate agitation in Jor- 
dan, and in spite of continued demands that other sources of 
income be found, the House of Deputies approved, on March 3, 


a budget of 16,600,000 Jordanian dinars for the financial year 
1954/55, with Great Britain contributing about one-half. 

A month later Premier Fawzi al Mulqi resigned, reportedly 
because he had given in to the opposition and followed an anti- 
British policy, which the King could not approve. On May 3 
Husain asked Abul Huda to form a government. The new 
cabinet's major policy points were: struggle against the Pales- 
tinians; cooperate with Britain; oppose Iraq's efforts at a union 
through support from Saudi Arabia. Agitation flared up again 
and on June 13, when King Saud arrived in Amman, demon- 
strators shouted anti-American and anti-British slogans. It 
became obvious that the Abul Huda government could not 
work with the present Parliament. It was also obvious that 
Parliament would vote no-confidence in the Abul Huda govern- 
ment. On May 18, a few hours before the vote was to take 
place, a royal decree issued at the request of the Premier 
dissolved Parliament. 

The impact of Egypt became stronger after Nasser succeeded 
in getting the British out of the Suez Canal zone. On September 
5, at the conclusion of a visit by the Egyptian Minister of State, 
Salah Salim, an official communique declared that Egypt and 
Jordan had reached agreement on foreign policy and military 
cooperation among the Arab countries. 

Parliamentary elections were held on October 16; 18 the oppo- 
sition parties withdrew, alleging that the government was inter- 
fering; demonstrators in Amman broke into the U.S.I.S. library 
and set it on fire. In the clashes fourteen persons were killed 
and 127 wounded, including 75 members of the army and police 
force. The demonstrations continued through October 21, when 
Parliament was opened, and the Arab Legion had to be called 
out to quell serious riots in Nablus and Ramallah. Premier 
Abul Huda submitted his resignation to the King and was 
immediately requested to form a new cabinet 

Events in Jordan were now falling into line with events in 
Egypt and with the discussions between Iraq and Great Britain 
on their treaty of alliance. On November 7, 1954 it was 
announced in Amman that Jordan, on the initiative of King 

18 The election results were revealing. Out of 40 members elected to the 
House of Deputies, 37 were independents, one was from the Umma party, one 
from the outlawed Liberation party, and one was a Communist-supported 


Husain, had expressed a desire to have the 1948 Anglo-Jordanian 
treaty of alliance revised. It would appear that the British, 
although not enthusiastic over the prospect, had indicated a 
willingness to consider a concrete proposal for revision if the 
Jordanian government made one* The following month Premier 
Tawfiq Abul Huda went to London to negotiate; the negotia- 
tions failed. 19 At the same time Britain granted Jordan 
2,500,000 (750,000 of which was an outright grant, and the 
balance an interest-free loan), while the U.S. Point Four admin- 
istration granted $5,000,000 in economic aid, to be used in 
the five-year development plan. 

Bagdad Pact Affair 

On February 24, 1955 Iraq and Turkey signed a treaty of 
mutual defense, which was the foundation of what came to be 
known as the Bagdad Pact. To counteract the Iraqi move, 
Egypt sponsored an Arab collective security pact, to which Syria, 
on March 2, expressed willingness to adhere, and which Saudi 
Arabia was reported to back fully. The following day the 
Egyptian Minister, Salah Salim, came to Amman in an effort 
to induce Jordan to join this pact. Syria, Egypt and Saudi 
Arabia stiffened their opposition to the Turkish-Iraqi agree- 
ment, and at the same time decided to establish a joint defense 
organization. Meanwhile, on March 30, Great Britain acceded 
to the Turkish-Iraq pact, which Pakistan had also joined; this 
aroused even greater opposition in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 

On May 28 King Husain accepted Abul Huda's resignation, 
and Said al Mufti was asked to form a government. No reason 
was officially given for Abul Huda's resignation, but observers 
explained it as the result of the question of neutrality in the 
inter-Arab struggle: pressure was being exerted from within 
and without for closer relations with Iraq; and at the same time 

19 The Jordanians made the following two demands: the grant-in-aid which 
the British made to the Legion to be in the form of a payment for the 
privileges which the British military forces enjoyed in Jordan, and to be 
given to the Jordan Defense Ministry instead of directly to the Legion; 
Glubb to be retired, or to become a serai-official military adviser. In reply to 
a question in the House of Commons, the British government stated that 
"no revision of our 1948 Treaty with Jordan is contemplated at present. 
The Treaty was mentioned by the Prime Minister of Jordan in connection 
with present and future political developments in other Arab countries." 
Great Britain, PJD.C., 536, col. 113, Feb. 2, 1955. 


the representative of Jordan at the Bandung Conference was 
working actively for the Egyptian-Saudi-Syrian lineup. This 
upset Iraq and the King had to remove Abul Huda. 20 

In the midst of the struggle came the surprising news, 
announced by Premier Gamal Abd an Nasser on September 27, 
1955, that Egypt had signed an agreement with Czechoslovakia 
for arms in exchange for Egyptian cotton and rice. This was 
the greatest shock the Western powers had had in the Middle 
East. There was frantic activity in both camps, with Jordan 
caught in the middle. On September 5 King Husain flew to 
Saudi Arabia to confer with King Saud. On November 2 Presi- 
dent Celal Bayar of Turkey arrived in Amman for a state visit, 
with the intention of getting Jordan to join the Turkish-Iraqi- 
British alliance. The King felt that this was the best opportunity 
for Jordan to obtain concessions and perhaps even the desired 
modifications of the Anglo- Jordanian treaty. While Bayar was 
still in Amman, Husain consulted with Glubb and they both 
decided that the Arab Legion should be expanded into three 
infantry divisions and one armored division; this was to be 
obtained for joining the Bagdad Pact. With the Turkish 
President, Husain pleaded poverty; Jordan was in desperate 
need of financial assistance for development schemes to reha- 
bilitate the refugees. Bayar responded that Turkey could not 
help financially, but that he would write to the British govern- 
ment urging that it grant Jordan additional help. Following 
his departure, Jordan prepared a memorandum to the British 
government to which was appended a list, compiled by the 
King, of Jordan's military and naval requirements; it referred 
to negotiations for the revision of the Anglo-Jordanian treaty, 
and indicated that Jordan's joining the Bagdad Pact would be 
a suitable occasion for the conclusion of the revised treaty. The 
note was handed to the British Ambassador in Amman on 
November 16, 1955. On the 19th, Husain went to Lebanon to 
take counsel with President Chamoun on how to keep out of 
the intra-Arab struggle, for Egypt and Saudi Arabia were now 
strongly determined to prevent Jordan from joining the Bagdad 
Pact, and the campaign inside Jordan and by the Egyptian press 
and radio was in high gear. According to Glubb, the Egyptian 
Embassy in Amman worked day and night interviewing poli- 

20 Mufti himself became Foreign Minister and thus removed Walid Salah, 
Foreign Minister in the Abul Huda government, who ws pro-Egyptian. 


ticians, threatening and cajoling, distributing literature and 
propaganda. The Saudi Embassy gave money freely to Jordan 
newspapers, members of Parliament, and to anyone else who 
could help in opposing the government. The government 
appealed to Great Britain. 

On December 5 the War Office in London announced that 
Sir Gerald Templer, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, had 
"left London for Jordan by air this evening and he was going 
to consult with the Government of Jordan on military matters 
concerning the defense of Jordan and the Arab Legion." 21 Sir 
Gerald and Michael Rose of the British Foreign Office arrived 
in Amman and met with Jordanian authorities on the 7th. 
Sir Gerald explained, while presenting his credentials, that he 
had come as a plenipotentiary and not as a general. He had 
been chosen instead of a diplomat because most of Jordan's 
requests were military in character. In reply to the demands 
of the Jordanians, the British government through Sir Gerald 
offered "to equip and maintain additional infantry units of the 
Arab Legion, together with an artillery unit"; "to convert an 
armored car regiment to tanks"; and "to negotiate the replace- 

21 The formal explanation for Sir Gerald's appearance in Jordan at this 
time was that Jordan had asked for a revision of the Anglo-Jordanian treaty, 
the British had been reluctant to revise it, preferring to wait for the general 
situation in the Middle East to clear up; after the Bagdad Pact crystallized 
and the Anglo-Iraqi treaty was revised in the light of the Pact, the Jordanian 
government had again asked for the treaty revision and it was for this pur- 
pose that Templer had gone to Amman. It would seem, however, that this 
was not the entire explanation. The Daily Mail (Dec. 7, 1955) declared: 
"British service chiefs are seriously disturbed about the security of Jordan and 
the future of the Arab Legion, the British-sponsored army regarded as the 
'lynch-pin' of our Middle East defense plans. This is the reason behind the 
unexpected visit to Amman, Jordan's capital, of Sir Gerald Templer." Other 
reports were that beginning in November 1955 Egypt had tried to infiltrate 
fedayeen into Jordan and Lebanon through the military attaches. Abu 
Nuwar was friendly with the Egyptian military attach^ in Amman, 
and the former tried to use the latter in removing Glubb. Abu Nuwar con- 
vinced the King that it would be highly desirable to admit into Jordan a 
number of Egyptian fedayeen who would carry on attacks against Israel; his 
real purpose was to undermine the British position in Jordan. Husain readily 
agreed, believing it would make him popular with the Arabs. Orders were 
given to the Deputy Chief of Staff, Ahmad Jundi, to permit 500 fedayeen 
to infiltrate and to prevent the police from interfering; the entire affair was, 
of course, to be kept from Glubb. Two weeks later Gen. Abdul Hakim Amr 
of Egypt visited Amman; after he talked with Glubb, Jundi was suddenly 
dismissed, and Amr abruptly left Jordan. Glubb realized how danger- 
ous the situation had become and advised London of the need for vigorous 
measures. The result was the arrival of Templer. 


ment of the Anglo- Jordan Treaty of 1948 by a Special Agreement 
under Article 1 of the Pact." 22 

The King was anxious to conclude the agreement, but the 
cabinet hesitated, although all the demands it had submitted to 
the British government were being met. The main difficulty 
came from the western bank members, and a split later devel- 
oped, and four members resigned. On November 4 Said al 
Mufti submitted the resignation of his cabinet to the King. 
Haza al Majali, the Interior Minister in the al Mufti cabinet 
and the main pro-Pact advocate, was asked to form a new 
government. 23 Although he was at first determined to proceed 
with the signing of the Bagdad Pact, in which determination 
he was enthusiastically supported by the King, al Majali was 
confronted with two serious obstacles: a number of Arab Legion 
officers were opposed to the Pact, and the ministers in the al 
Mufti government who had resigned were arousing the popu- 
lation against the Pact with active support from Egypt and 
Saudi Arabia. Templer left for London to await the decision 
of the Jordan government, 

Anti-Pact Agitation 

After al Majali completed his cabinet not without difficulty 
in obtaining western bank members he stated openly that he 
had undertaken the formation of the government for the 
purpose of bringing Jordan into the Bagdad Pact. This was 
the signal for all the opponents to mobilize their forces. On 
December 16 demonstrations began to break out in western 
Jordan cities, and the new Premier was forced to postpone 
negotiations; 24 he declared that they would be resumed in 
proper time. Nevertheless the demonstrations continued, and on 
the 18th one person was killed and seven were wounded when 
security forces broke up student mobs in Amman. Two days 
later, after more demonstrations and the resignation of three 
cabinet members, Majali announced that he would resign 

22 Great Britain, PIXC., 548, col. 12, Jan. 24, 1956; Glubb, A Soldier with 
the Arabs, 392-394. 

23 Haza al Majali, a comparatively young man, belonged to the ruling clan 
of Karak; he was a favorite of King Abdullah. Unlike the other premiers, he 
was not a townsman but was very close to the bedouin tradition, 

24 It would seem that his own Minister of the Interior, Abbas Mirza, was 
countermanding his orders and helping the opposition. Glubb, A Soldier with 
the Arabs, 399-400. 


immediately and let the people decide through parliamentary 
elections whether or not Jordan should join the Pact. King 
Husain dissolved Parliament by royal decree, but the rioting 
-went on. In the Old City of Jerusalem mobs stormed the 
Turkish and French consulates, a United Nations official and 
his family were dragged out of their car and beaten and the 
car was set on fire. Four Arabs were killed and 27 injured. 
Anti-Western demonstrators tore down the American flag in 
the garden of the American consulate and renewed attacks 
were made on the Turkish and French consulates. In Amman, 
the French flag was ripped from the consulate building, and 
three persons were killed in street fights. It was estimated that 
during the five days of rioting ten persons were killed and 
100 wounded. 25 

On December 21, Ibrahim Hashim, who had been named 
caretaker Premier, declared that his government, which was 
to prepare for the elections, would not deal with political 
questions, nor would it bind itself to any treaties or obligations. 
This meant that it would be up to the electorate to determine 
the policy of the future government. Most of those responsible 
for the outbreak of the riots were released, among them Sulai- 
man Nabulsi. Egypt and her allies, Syria and Saudi Arabia, 
apparently tried to influence the elections by announcing that 
they were discussing the possibility of supplying Jordan with 
economic aid to replace British aid. 

The election campaign soon began in earnest. Those instru- 
mental in setting off the anti-Bagdad Pact riots met in the 
Old City of Jerusalem and organized the National Committee, 
one of whose leaders was Nabulsi. The Committee's aims were: 
to keep Jordan out of the Bagdad Pact; to get rid of the 
powerful British influence through cancellation of the Anglo- 
Jordanian treaty and the ousting of Gen. Glubb and all British 

25 Premier Majali charged that Communists and fellow-travelers had led 
the rioters, who had been bribed by Saudi Arabia. He revealed the following 
details which had led to the resignation of the al Mufti government. On the 
understanding that Jordan would join the Bagdad Pact, Gen. Templer had 
offered a set of proposals. A cabinet committee, including Majali, was ap- 
pointed to draft Jordan's minimum requirements. Four of the ministers 
suggested that these requirements be shown "to a certain Arab state" before 
they were submitted to Britain. This was accepted hi principle, although it 
was felt to be premature. The next morning the four ministers, without con- 
sulting their colleagues, resigned. Glubb stated that the "certain Arab state*' 
was Egypt. 


officers of the Arab Legion; to adhere to the Syro-Egyptian-Saudi 
alliance; and to steer a course with Jordan's Arab neighbors 
against any final peace with Israel except on Arab terms. 

To bolster the anti-Pact elements in Jordan and frighten the 
electorate, Saudi Arabia announced on December 26 that Egypt's 
War Minister and commander in chief of her armed forces, 
Maj Gen. Abdul Hakim Amr, had been named head of the 
joint Egyptian-Saudi armed forces under a mutual defense pact. 
(A previous agreement with Syria had made Amr commander 
of the joint Syro-Egyptian forces.) On the 26th it was also 
announced that Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia were ready to 
provide Jordan with financial aid to replace the grants from 
Great Britain. 26 

As if to counteract this general promise of aid, the British 
announced that they would grant Jordan 3,350,000 in aid and 
interest-free loans during the coming fiscal year to help develop 
her economy. This was about a million pounds more than the 
previous year, and of course it was in addition to the 8,000,000 
Britain gave for the upkeep of the Legion. 

As the campaign developed, the King and his advisers ap- 
parently had second thoughts about the elections; they were 
unwilling to risk a test of strength between the two Arab 
blocs. It was suddenly discovered that the decree ordering the 
dissolution of Parliament, although signed by the King, lacked 
the previous signature of the Minister of the Interior, as 
required by law. The issue was soon submitted to the 
Supreme Council for the Interpretation of the Constitution, 
which ruled that the dissolution was illegal, and the cabinet 
quickly approved the decision. This was a signal for the anti- 
Pact elements, and rioting broke out on January 7, 1956 in 
Amman, Nablus, Hebron, and the Old City of Jerusalem, where 
a mob attacked the American consulate and the U. S. Technical 
Aid headquarters was burned. The Hashim government re- 
signed, and on the 9th the King asked Samir ar Rifai to head 
a new government. The first two acts of the ar Rifai cabinet 
were to announce that Jordan would not join the Bagdad Pact, 

26 Foreign Minister Burhan Eddin Bashayan of Iraq reacted to this pro- 
posal thus: ''The Anglo- Jordanian Treaty cannot be terminated by the mere 
giving of annual financial aid to Jordan in place of Britain's aid. Any such 
aid would relieve Britain of the aid which it gives annually to Jordan with- 
out affecting in the least the Anglo-Jordanian Treaty." Middle Eastern Affairs, 
VII, 85, Feb., 1956. 


and to impose a nationwide curfew except for the hours between 
3 and 5 P.M. The Jordan government openly charged on 
January 10 that Egyptian and Saudi Arabian broadcasts had 
helped instigate the violence that had swept the country during 
the previous four days. 27 

To complicate matters further, reports began emanating from 
Damascus that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria had proposed on 
January 11 the convening of a meeting with Jordan to discuss 
their offer of economic aid. Three days later the Jordan govern- 
ment found it necessary to deny officially that it had received 
such an offer. The three persisted, and on the 17th Jordan 
rejected the proposed conference, suggesting instead a meeting 
of all the Arab states in Amman to discuss Jordan's financial 
dependence on Britain. 28 

After receiving a vote of confidence from Parliament on the 
declaration: "It is not our policy to join the Bagdad Pact/* the 
Rifai government began to press for an all-Arab conference 
in Amman. Early in February the Premier visited Bagdad, 
Cairo, Damascus and Beirut. In the last named, he was reported 
to have said that his country was willing to get rid of some 
British influence, notably the leadership of the Jordanian army 
by British-born Lt. Gen. John Bagot Glubb. Iraq replied 
positively to ar Rifai's invitation, but Egypt refused it and 
instead Gamal Abd an Nasser asked Jordan on February 13 
to join Egypt in a bilateral defense pact. 

Thus, in spite of all the maneuvers of Husain and his Premier, 

27 It was the general consensus of opinion of foreign observers in Jordan 
that the riots had been brought about by active Egyptian campaigning in 
Cairo and inside Jordan, by gold from Saudi Arabia distributed to the press 
and to individuals of influence, by Communist cells, and by extreme Arab 
nationalists. The Christian Science Monitor, in an editorial on Jan. 12, 1956, 
observed: "The Soviet Union would like nothing better than to see revolts 
which would perhaps overthrow the government of Jordan, carry the coun- 
try into the Cairo camp and pay its troops with Saudi Arabian royalties 
from American-developed oil." 

28 It was reported in Mecca on Jan. 17 that King Saud, in consultation 
with Egyptian Premier Gamal Abd an Nasser and Syrian Pres. Shukri al 
KuwatH, had decided to send the following note to Amman: "The Saudi 
Arabian Government wishes to discuss with the Jordanian Government the 
way in which Arab countries can extend aid and financial assistance to Jor- 
dan. The Saudi Arabian Government suggests that a meeting of the Heads 
of State in Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia be held to discuss this 
question. The date and place of the meeting could be decided after the 
approval of the Jordanian Government." Middle Eastern Affairs, VII, 86, 
Feb., 1956. 


the Syro-Egyptian-Saudi combination continued to dominate 
the scene. It prevented Jordan from joining the Bagdad Pact; 
as far as the Arab world was concerned, it was offering Jordan 
financial aid to replace the aid given by Britain; and it refused 
to accept Husain's invitation to come to Amman. 29 The King 
had to make some dramatic move to strengthen his position 
vis-a-vis his three powerful opponents, a move that would at 
the same time make him popular with the Arab nationalists 
throughout the Middle East. 

Glubb's Ouster 

With the defeat of the British government as well as the 
pro-Bagdad Pact forces in the country in their efforts to bring 
Jordan into the Pact, the process of reducing British influence 
in the country continued with increasing vigor. The pro- 
Egyptian and pro-Saudi forces were gaining ground and the 
next objective of their campaign was the removal of Glubb. 
Opposition to Glubb was not only along political and ideological 
lines, but also along personal lines. The subject was discussed 
for a number of weeks, and on the last day of February the 
King made up his mind. Abu Nuwar telephoned Glubb from 
the Palace advising him to be available on the following day 
for a summons by the King. Glubb was called early in the 
afternoon of March 1, 1956 to the Premier's office and informed 
that the King had ordered his dismissal. He was asked to leave 
Jordan in two hours. After some discussion, it was agreed that 
he would leave at seven o'clock the following morning. Also 
dismissed were his two top British aides, Col. Sir Patrick 

29 According to Glubb, a young Arab Legion captain, All Abu Nuwar, be- 
gan to work immediately after Abdullah's death, against British aid and even 
against the monarchy; he tried to get to King Talal to persuade him to 
remove Glubb and reject British financial assistance. His efforts became 
known to Glubb who reported them to Premier Abul Huda. As a result 
Abu Nuwar was removed from Jordan by being appointed military attache 1 
in Paris. But even from there he apparently worked successfully with Syria, 
Saudi Arabia and Egypt against the Bagdad Pact. When Husain visited 
Europe, Abu Nuwar accompanied him. The King liked Abu Nuwar and in 
1955 he asked Glubb to post him in Jordan. Glubb temporized, using the 
excuse that the posting of a military attach^ was for three years. In the 
autumn of 1955 the King spoke to the Premier about getting Abu Nuwar for 
his aide de camp. Glubb advised the Premier that Nuwar was a political 
intriguer, but submitted to the King's desire and Abu Nuwar returned to 
Jordan as the King's aide. 


Coghill, head of the department of general investigation, and 
Brig. William Hutton, chief of staff. The British Ambassador 
went to see the King that evening and asked him to delay action 
on the dismissal; the King also received a telegram from the 
British Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, asking for time to 
consider the situation, but the King would not retreat. Early 
the following morning the three were escorted by tanks to the 
Amman airfield from where they left for Cyprus en route to 
Britain. 30 King Husain himself announced the news to his own 
people as well as to the Arab world in a radio broadcast. As 
soon as it became known, thousands of persons began milling 
in the streets of Amman, denouncing Glubb as a traitor who 
had worked to weaken the Arab Legion so that it would be 
unable to meet Israeli aggression. The King told the demon- 
strators that this was "a holy day on which we have succeeded 
in our movement by God's will. I hope God will help us to 
regain our stolen rights and to work side by side with one 
hand to serve our nation." 31 


That this move was not meant, either by the Jordan govern- 
ment or the King, as a complete break with Great Britain and 

30 Glubb reported that during the night he had received a telephone call 
informing him that his airplane would leave at six o'clock instead of at seven. 
He accordingly got ready to leave at six, but the officer guarding his house 
would not let him go out. In a press interview, AH Abu Nuwar told re- 
porters that Glubb had attempted to escape at six o'clock in order to take 
refuge with the RA.F. A Soldier with the Arabs, 426-427. 

31 London gave a different picture. There it was claimed that a Jordanian 
officers cabal had been formed along the lines of the Egyptian "Free Officers" 
group. The cabal had approached Premier Samir ar Rifai and, aided by the 
pressure of events since the failure of the Templer mission, joined with him 
to force King Husain to choose between Gen. Glubb and his own throne. 
Glubb himself reported: "I was subsequently told that the Cabinet had voted 
whether to dismiss me or not, that the votes were equally divided and that 
the Prime Minister gave the carrying vote for dismissal. I would not know 
whether this was so or not. 

"In my interview with him, the Prime Minister had told me that the 
King's order had been a complete surprise to him. Another Cabinet Minister 
subsequently told the British Ambassador that this was untrue, and that 
His Majesty had discussed the matter with several Cabinet ministers a few 
days previously." A Soldier with the Arabs, 427. It would nevertheless seem 
that while the subject of Glubb's dismissal had been discussed, the act of 
dismissal was not a Cabinet decision but an order of the King, and it was the 
result of a plot hatched by Abu Nuwar to convince the King of the wisdom 
of the act. 


as acceptance of the financial offer made by the three Arab 
states was evidenced from the fact that in the message from 
the King and his government to the British government on 
March 2 informing it of Glubb's dismissal, a strong wish was 
expressed that friendly relations between the two countries 
would continue. The British, taken completely by surprise, 
declared on the same day that they were deeply concerned at 
the developments and the possible consequences, internal and 
external, to which they might lead. Prime Minister Sir Anthony 
Eden held a special two-hour emergency cabinet meeting to 
consider the situation. On March 3 the Jordan government, 
fearing a break, declared that it intended to respect its treaty 
obligations with Britain. The British, however, were not to be 
so easily mollified; three days later Sir Anthony declared that 
Glubb's dismissal violated the spirit of British-Jordanian accord 
and that fifteen top British officers with the Legion would be 
withdrawn. No indication was given, however, that Britain 
would stop the Legion's subsidy. Premier ar Rifai emphasized 
that the ouster of Glubb was an internal matter and should 
not affect Jordan's relations with Great Britain. He declared 
that British officers were still needed by the Legion, and 
expressed the hope that Britain would continue to finance the 
Legion. It was reported at the time that King Husain had 
personally approached the British (through the former British 
Ambassador, Sir Alec Kirkbride) in an effort to repair the 
damage to British-Jordanian relations caused by Glubb's 

The first reaction of the British, shock and anger, was soon 
changed into a more practical approach, and no penalizing 
measures were adopted. The British apparently hoped that 
through their financial aid to the Legion they could still exercise 
control, even without Glubb, and even the threat to withdraw 
fifteen top officers was not carried through. 32 On March 23 the 
British announced that they intended to spend about 10,000,- 
000 in support of Jordan's armed forces and in economic aid 
in the fiscal year 1956/57. And on April 17 the British War 
Office announced that Britain would continue to lend officers 

32 The Manchester Guardian of Mar. 3, 1956, discussing the Glubb dis- 
missal, noted that the Arabs, watching the relations between the West and 
Col. Nasser, had concluded that "the worse he has treated the West the more 
the West has offered him"; and then asked: "Will the British Government 
reply to the present rebuff by agreeing to continue the subsidy?" 


to Jordan's Arab Legion until Arab officers became available 
to replace them. 

Thus ended not only the career of John Bagot Glubb, the 
guide and mentor of the Arab Legion, a legendary personality 
of the Middle East, but also the hold which the British had 
on the Legion and on Jordan. The ouster of Glubb was one 
of the inevitable consequences of the murder of King Abdullah, 
and of the pressures of Egypt and Saudi Arabia on a Jordan 
dominated by the discontent and agitation of the Palestine 

To be sure, King Husain and his forever alternating premiers 
refused to renounce the British subsidy for Arab promises. 
Promises were not the same as a British commitment, and to 
be subject to Syrian, Egyptian and Saudi Arabian pressure 
through dependence on their financial help would be worse 
than to be subject to British pressure. The King apparently 
felt that he would gain stature and popularity with the masses 
by ousting Glubb, and he gambled that the British would 
ultimately acquiesce in the dismissal He thought that by 
getting rid of the most important British figure in Jordan he 
would be taking the wind out of the sails of his Egyptian, 
Syrian and Saudi critics. He was probably hoping that he could 
have the best of two worlds-oust Glubb and replace him with 
an Arab, and yet not become subject to Arab domination by 
continuing to receive the British subsidy. 

The British, at first outraged, soon calmed down. They agreed 
to continue subsidizing Jordan and not to remove British 
personnel from the Legion. But would Egypt, Syria and Saudi 
Arabia allow Husain to stop with the dismissal of Glubb? 
Would the Arabs of the western bank of the Jordan be satisfied 
to stop with the dismissal of Glubb? Would the continued 
British subsidy help the economic plight? Would the old enemies 
o the House of Hashim inside and outside of Jordan stop their 
activities just because the King had dismissed Glubb? Would 
the Soviet Union's machinations cease because the King had 
dismissed some British officers from the command of the Legion? 
Subsequent events gave the answers to these questions. 

Chapter XVII 

KING HUSAIN was right. His dismissal of Glubb was 
hailed in the Arab world, especially in the anti-Bagdad 
Pact countries, as a great victory for the neutralist 
elements and a serious defeat for Great Britain and Iraq. But 
instead of making the Arabs relent in their opposition and 
ease their pressure on Jordan, it apparently had the opposite 
effect; the Arabs were more than ever determined to fight the 
Pact and force Jordan to sever the last strings which tied her 
to Britainthe financial subsidy and the treaty of alliance. 

Four days after Glubb's ouster was made public, the King 
of Saudi Arabia and the Presidents of Egypt and Syria met in 
Cairo and discussed the situation. After conferring for two days, 
they issued a very strong communique condemning the Bagdad 
Pact, and they sent Syrian Premier Said al Ghazzi to King 
Husain with proposals for replacing British aid and an invita- 
tion to come to Cairo to talk over his country's future. Husain 
refused both the proposals and the invitation, and Ghazzi 
returned to Cairo empty-handed. The "Big Three" issued 
another communique on March 12, at the conclusion of their 
meeting, announcing that they had devised a unified plan 
against "the danger of Zionist aggression" and for preserving 
neutrality in the cold war. In a countermove, the Hashimis 
Husain of Jordan and Faisal of Iraq met on the 14th near 
their common border and, according to the official statement 
issued, discussed questions affecting their own countries in 
particular and the Arab world in general. 

Legion Command 

Under the continuing pressure on Jordan, Husain began to 
give way. On April 9 he went to Damascus; a joint communique 
at the conclusion of his talks with the Syrian authorities stated 



that the two countries had agreed to steer clear of any foreign 
pacts, coordinate their defense plans, and have their armies 
cooperate to "repulse any future aggression on the Arab 

In the meantime, tension between Israel and the Arabs was 
rising. The growing number of attacks and reprisals necessitated 
special United Nations attention, which in turn heightened the 
tension between the West and the East. Egypt was drawing 
ever closer to the Soviet Union, and her attacks against the 
Bagdad Pact and the Western powers became more violent. On 
April 23 it was announced that Yemen had signed a military 
pact with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and that Maj. Gen. Abdul 
Hakim Amr of Egypt had been named head of the joint com- 
mand of the three armies. Five days later the new chief of general 
staff of the Arab Legion, Maj. Gen. Radi Annab, accompanied 
by Lt. Col. Ali Abu Nuwar, arrived in Cairo to discuss military 
cooperation with Egypt. It was announced on the following day 
that "agreement was reached which coordinates and unifies 
efforts of both armies in a way guaranteeing the defense of the 
entity and interests of the Arab world on solid scientific bases, 
the aim of which is complete cooperation between the two 

Rumblings began to be felt in the ranks of the Arab Legion 
itself. On May 14 two senior officers were arrested and seven 
others were placed under house arrest on charges of plotting 
an armed coup to seize control of the Legion and overall power 
in Jordan. 1 Less than a week later the King suddenly dismissed 
Samir ar Rifai and asked Said al Mufti to form a new govern- 
ment. The Arabs considered Rifai's dismissal and Mufti's ap- 
pointment a setback for the West since the issue involved was 
the revision of the Anglo- Jordanian treaty. On the 24th, Annab 
was retired as the Legion's chief of general staff. Abu Nuwar, 
whom the King considered a personal friend but who was 
intriguing with Egypt for his own personal purposes, was 
promoted to the rank of major general and named Annab's 
successor. Ali al Hayari was placed in command of the first 

1 The following statement in the House of Commons by W. R. Reese- 
Davies throws interesting light on the situation: "I am not under any par- 
ticular bonds of secrecy in this matter, and I go so far as to say that it is 
no secret that in fact a band of officers in the area of Jordan are concerned 
with the overthrow of King Hussein." Great Britain, PD.C. t 549, col. 2196, 
Mar. 7, 1956. 


infantry division and promoted to the rank of brigadier. The 
new chief of general staff immediately announced that the army 
would be enlarged; the Minister of Defense, Muhammad AH 
Ajluni, stated that the Arab Legion as such would be abolished 
and the force merged with the National Guard 2 to form an 
expanded Jordanian army. 

On the 29th, President Shukri al Quwatli of Syria arrived 
for a state visit and shortly thereafter it was stated in a joint 
communique* that Syria and Jordan had decided to establish 
a permanent body for military operations in case of war. 

Said al Mufti tried to organize a government based on a 
compromise between the forces which sought to keep Jordan 
independent and the forces which sought to bring her into the 
Egyptian orbit. On June 20 he asked the House of Deputies 
for a vote of confidence; it soon became evident that he would 
not get it. He therefore obtained in advance the King's consent 
to dissolve Parliament. This was accomplished on June 26. 
Egyptian propaganda both in and outside Parliament made it 
impossible for the government to function. Al Mufti, old and 
sickly, was no match for the forces arrayed against him and 

2 About 1950 the Arab Legion began to organize a militia, especially along 
the frontier villages adjacent to Israel, in order to increase the country's 
military potential and at the same time relieve the Legion, which was pri- 
marily a mobile force, from stationary frontier duty. The members of the 
militia, called the National Guard, were to serve without pay, while the 
government would supply the weapons. It was to have been composed mostly 
of Palestinians. The Arab League evinced great interest in the Guard, and 
Abdullah's most outspoken opponents, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, indicated 
willingness to finance it. The Guard was double-edged: on the one hand it 
showed the Palestinians that they were partners in the new homeland and 
were entrusted with the protection of the country against the enemy; this 
would help integrate them into the Jordanian nation. On the other hand it 
contained the seed of possible armed rebellion by the Palestinians against the 
Jordanian authorities. It was very likely that it was with that in mind that 
Egypt and Saudi Arabia were so eager to offer assistance; to avert such an 
eventuality, the entire National Guard organization was placed under the 
strict control of Arab Legion regulars. 

Later on the Jordan Parliament enacted the National Guard Law, which 
made guard training about two months every year compulsory for every 
Jordanian male of military age. By early 1956 the strength of the National 
Guard had reached 30,000. The British recognized the importance of the 
Guard and on Feb. 16, 1955 Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden announced 
in the House of Commons that the government had decided to grant 350,000 
annually for its maintenance. The expanded Jordanian army consisted of 
55,000 men. Great Britain PJXC., 537, cols. 57-52, Feb. 16, 1955; Glubb, 
A Soldier with the Arabs, 386 et passim; The Economist, CLXXXI, 147, 
Oct. 13, 1956. 


on the 30th he resigned. The King asked Ibrahim Hashim to 
form a caretaker government and prepare for elections. 

The situation between Israel and Jordan grew worse. In 
Damascus and Cairo it was charged that Israel was massing 
troops along the Jordanian border in an effort to put pressure 
on King Husain. 

The Aswan Dam Issue 

Meanwhile, events in another part of the Middle East were 
moving rapidly. After long-drawn-out negotiations, the State De- 
partment announced on July 19 that it would not be feasible for 
the United States to participate in building the Aswan High Dam 
across the Nile in Egypt. The next day the British government 
made known that it had also withdrawn its offer to help build 
the Dam. While Arab anti-Egyptian circles were delighted 
they thought this was the beginning of a strong Western policy 
toward Nasser Washington's decision and the manner it was 
made known threw Nasser into a violent rage. After six hectic 
but unsuccessful days of negotiating with the Soviet Embassy 
in Cairo in the hope that the U.S.S.R. would give him the help 
the West was denying him, Nasser announced on the 26th of 
July the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company. 

As shocking as the American and British withdrawals of aid 
for the Aswan High Dam were to Nasser, the nationalization 
of the Canal hit tie West with even more force. It looked as 
though the entire Western position in the Middle East would 
be undermined if that action went unchallenged. Jubilation 
in the pro-Egyptian Arab world was frenzied; Nasser's prestige 
soared and with it the prestige of the Soviet Union, which was 
vociferously backing Nasser. At the same time the prestige of 
Iraq, the symbol of friendship for the West in the region, fell 
to a new low. 

These developments were bound to have an influence on 
the pending election campaign in Jordan, where pro-Egyptian 
elements were gaining the upper hand. The voting was finally 
scheduled for October 21, and the campaign went into high 
gear. The main issue was the treaty between Jordan and Great 
Britain. The major personality to emerge was Sulaiman Nabulsi, 
leader of the Nationalist Socialist party which advocated a 
strongly anti-Western and pro-Soviet program. 


Early in August Jordan concluded an agreement on economic 
unity with Syria; in the middle of the month a 57-member 
Egyptian cultural mission arrived in Amman; and on the 19th, 
after a visit to Damascus by King Husain and Ali Abu Nuwar, 
his army chief of general staff, the Syrian Minister of Defense, 
Abdul Hasib Raslan, stated that his country, Saudi Arabia and 
Egypt had agreed to extend permanent financial aid to Jordan's 
National Guard. 

Since Abu Nuwar was primarily interested in Abu Nuwar, 
he became alarmed at the inroads which Egyptian influence 
was making in Jordan and he turned to Iraq as a counter- 
balance. He went to Bagdad in an attempt to bring the two 
Hashimite states into closer military cooperation. One of the 
measures agreed upon was the stationing of an Iraqi division 
along the Jordan borders to be ready for action at the request 
of the Amman government. 3 The move was primarily anti- 
Egyptian, but since opposition to Israel was an issue on which 
all the Arabs, regardless of their differences, could agree, it 
was announced as a preventive measure in view of the imminent 
danger from Israel. Then on July 7, 1956 Nuwar handed the 
British Ambassador in Amman, Sir Charles Duke, a note 
warning that Britain must come to Jordan's aid in case of an 
Israeli attack or else face abrogation of the mutual defense 
treaty. At the same time he announced that Iraqi and Syrian 
troops had advanced to the Israel frontier to assist Jordan if 
necessary. On September 6 King Saud invited military repre- 
sentatives of Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to Riad to discuss 
joint measures for strengthening Jordan against Israel. The 
situation alarmed the Western powers, and the British persuaded 
the Americans to permit the Iraqis to enter and take over 
Jordan before it fell into the hands of the pro-Egyptian elements. 
The Israelis could not regard with equanimity the approach of 

3 The Iraqis began to approach Jordan, but with definite intentions of 
entering it. While Abu Nuwar thought the move merely a maneuver against 
Egypt, the Iraqis were not ready to station their soldiers practically in the 
midst of the desert. It was reported that the reason for the failure of the 
maneuver was Abu Nuwar's ineptness in handling the Iraqi staff officers 
sent to Amman to make the final arrangements; it was reliably reported that 
Nuwar urged the Iraqis to eliminate young King Faisal and the aging 
Premier Nuri as Said and turn Iraq into a military dictatorship similar to 
Egypt's and along the same lines as his own secret plans for Jordan. Nuri 
as Said, learning what was afoot, recalled the mission and notified the dis- 
appointed British that at best he would send only small detachments into 
Jordan; even that little aid plan fell through. 


Iraqi military forces to their border and they would be bound 
to take measures to compensate for the new military situation 
which would be created. The British warned and pleaded with 
the Israelis not to take any action, for under the 1948 treaty 
of alliance, Great Britain would be obliged to go to Jordan's 
assistance. 4 Despite the warnings, Israel's Prime Minister, David 
Ben Gurion, declared on October 15 that his government 
reserved freedom of action if Iraqi troops took over Jordan. 
To ease the tension, Secretary of State Dulles reaffirmed the 
United States pledge to support and assist any victim of 
aggression in the Middle East; who the victim in the Jordanian 
situation might be he never made clear. But because of the 
many obstacles and dangers involved in having Iraq take over 
Jordan, the British and Americans apparently had second 
thoughts about the idea and it was abandoned. 

Alarmed by the heightened Syrian and Egyptian pressure, 
King Husain conferred on October 14 with Iraqi Crown Prince 
Abdul Illah at the Palace in Amman on military matters. An 
agreement was subsequently announced which provided that 
Iraqi troops and aircraft were to be placed at strategic points 
on the Iraq-Jordan border, ready to come to Jordan's aid in 
case of attack. This was followed by an announcement made 
by Jordan's army chief of general staff that British jet planes 
and Iraqi troops were immediately available should Jordan 
need them against Israel. Syria was not to be outdone. She 
announced on October 16 that she had moved "the first install- 
ment of heavy weapons" into Jordan and had troops ready to 
defend that country against Israel. She was serving notice to 
Iraq that her troops would not be the only ones in Jordan 
if the regime should collapse. 

Parliamentary Elections 

The elections were held on the 21st as scheduled. The campaign, 

4 It was reported from Jerusalem that Peter Westlake, British charge" 
d'affaires in Tel Aviv, had assured Foreign Minister Golda Meir that the 
Iraqi force would be small and that it would be kept on the east bank of 
the Jordan River, far from the Israeli frontier. Mr. Westlake also tried to 
convince Mrs. Meir that an Iraqi incursion would benefit Israel, since it 
would hold back the Egyptian dictator, considered by Israel her most dan- 
gerous enemy. He argued, too, that a strengthened Jordan would be able 
to break the chain of border troubles. Failing to sway the Israelis, the Brit- 
ish resorted to blunt threats: they declared that the Iraqi forces were in- 
tended to safeguard Jordan against Israeli aggression. 


for the first time in the country's history, was comparatively 
free and unhindered, for the new constitution which went into 
effect in November 1955 provided that a government which 
dissolved a parliament must submit its resignation, and that 
the elections must be conducted by a caretaker government 
whose members must not be candidates for election. Ibrahim 
Hashim's government was disinterested in the outcome. Further- 
more, the modifications in the election law made for greater 
freedom, and finally, the appearance of political parties on 
a large scale made for a lively campaign. 

In these elections, the fourth since the annexation of Arab 
Palestine, seven groups vied for the forty seats in the House of 
Deputies. On the right were the two religious parties, the 
Muslim Brotherhood and the even more extreme Freedom 5 party, 
as well as the Arab National party, which had fascist tendencies. 
The center normally the mainstay of the Hashimi house and 
standing for an independent Jordan consisted of independents 
and the Arab Constitutional party. Three parties made up the 
left: the Nationalist Socialist, allied unequivocally to Egypt; 
the Arab Renaissance Socialist (Baath), connected with the 
Renaissance party of Syria; and the Communists, who during 
the elections called themselves the National Front. These three, 
with nothing in common so far as internal affairs were con- 
cerned, were united in opposition to Western influence in Jor- 
dan, in favor of the revocation of the Anglo-Jordanian treaty 
and the termination of British financial aid, and they were 
lined up behind Nasser, even to the extent of letting Jordan 
lose her independence. The Muslim Brotherhood won 4 seats; 
the Freedom party, 1; independents, 11; the Arab Constitutional 
party, 8; the Nationalist Socialists, 11; the Arab Renaissance 
Socialists, 2; and the Communists (National Front), 3. Four of 
the independents supported the pro-Egyptian leftist groups, 
giving that orientation a total of twenty. 

Husain saw the handwriting on the wall and quickly made 
the necessary adjustment. Since the Nationalist Socialists had 
emerged as the strongest single party, the King called on its 
leader, Sulaiman Nabulsi, to form a new government. Egyptian 
and Syrian military delegations began arriving in Amman as 

5 Glubb made the following observation: "The Freedom party seemed 
mysteriously to be in possession of funds, although it did not collect money 
in Jordan." A Soldier with the Arabs, 349, 


soon as the election results became known, and on October 25 
a military agreement between those two countries and Jordan 
was signed; it placed the Egyptian, Maj. Gen. Abdul Hakim 
Amr, in charge of the combined armed forces. This was the 
act of surrender; King Husain's long struggle to maintain his 
country's neutrality between Iraq and Egypt was finally given 
up in favor of Egypt. 

Suez Canal Affair 

On October 29 an Israel force drove deep into the Sinai 
Peninsula against the Egyptian army, to be followed later by 
British and French military expeditions to the Suez Canal. The 
situation in the Middle East suddenly and dramatically changed. 
Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen were militarily allied 
to Egypt. What action would they take against Israel and against 
the two Western powers? The Jordan government immediately 
issued a communique stating that "the Jordanian Cabinet met 
today and studied reports concerning the Israeli military attack 
on Egyptian territory. The Cabinet decided to fulfill Jordan's 
obligations in conformity with the military agreement reached 
recently between Jordan, Egypt and Syria, and to take all 
measures leading to the fulfillment of those obligations. 1 ' But 
how could Jordan take such measures when she was beleaguered 
by Syrian and Iraqi troops ready to pounce on each other? On 
November 3 Bagdad announced that Iraqi troops had moved 
into Jordan; Syrian troops moved in within a day. The formal 
explanation for these movements was that the units were to 
protect Jordan from a sudden attack by Israel; actually, it was 
common knowledge that each army was watching to see that 
the other did not take over Jordan. 

Treaty Cancelled 

Great Britain's invasion of Egypt provided the final weapon 
to wreck the Anglo-Jordanian treaty. On November 20 the 
House of Deputies recommended that the treaty be abrogated. 
A week later Premier Nabulsi announced in the House that 
the government was determined to end the treaty and that the 
act of abrogation would take place as soon as Egypt, Syria and 
Saudi Arabia fulfilled their offer to substitute Arab for British 


financial aid. 6 The Premier also announced that his govern- 
ment was working toward establishing diplomatic relations 
with the Soviet Union. 

The presence of the Iraqi troops irritated the Nabulsi gov- 
ernment and on November 13, after the supposed danger from 
Israel was over, it requested that the troops be withdrawn* 
Bagdad ignored the request. In the meantime there were diffi- 
culties in Iraq itself. On December 1, just when Parliament was 
convening, it was suddenly suspended for one month, at the 
request of Premier Nuri as Said, to give him an opportunity to 
gain control of the situation. Subsequently it was announced 
in Bagdad, on the 8th, that the Iraqi troops had been withdrawn 
from Jordan. Neither the Syrian nor the Saudi Arabian units 
were asked to withdraw. 

The independence of Jordan was not a primary consideration 
for the Nabulsi government, and on December 16 the Premier 
declared that the country could not "live forever as Jordan" 
and it "must be connected militarily, economically and polit- 
ically" with one or more Arab states. The pro-Nasser policy 
was vigorously pursued and in the middle of that month a 
"purge" of officials known to have pro-Western leanings was 
instituted. The relations between the two Hashimite kingdoms 
became strained. On the 17th, a two-hour general strike was 
declared in Amman in protest against Nuri Said's policy of 
suppressing the opposition elements in Iraq. In' reprisal, the 
Iraq government deported a number of Jordanian citizens 
working in Iraq, and a number of Jordanians and Egyptians 
were reported to have been arrested. 

In order to accomplish the abrogation of the Anglo-Jordanian 
treaty of alliance, the Nabulsi government sent missions to 
Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia to obtain the necessary commit- 
ments to replace the British subsidy. The efforts were success- 
ful; an agreement was signed on the 19th in which the three 
governments promised to "share in the expenditure emanating 
from the obligations falling on the Government of the Hashimite 
Kingdom of Jordan, as a result of the policy of cooperation 
and solidarity for bolstering Arab existence and independence, 

6 Since the end of the war, Great Britain gave Jordan 82,050,000 about 
70,100,000 in subsidies to the Arab Legion, 3,350,000 budgetary assistance 
and 8,600,000 for economic development. During the fiscal year 1956/57 
total payments were raised to 12300,000 9,200,000 for the Legion, 2300.- 
000 for development, and 1,000,000 budgetary aid. 


of the total amount of EL12,500,000 annually, or their equiva- 
lent." Syria was to contribute 2.5 million pounds; Saudi Arabia 
and Egypt 5 million each. The agreement was for ten years and 
was to come into force on the date of the exchange of instru- 
ments of ratification, to talce place in Cairo. Payments were to 
be made by each government in two equal installments a year, 
the first when the agreement became effective, the second six 
months after the first, and so on. Jordan's Parliament promptly 
ratified the agreement and the Nabulsi triumph was complete. 
This was the last step before the final abrogation of the 
Anglo-Jordanian treaty. With Nasser's victory in the Suez Canal 
and the domination of Jordan by the Syro-Egyptian-Saudi axis, 
there was no further purpose in the British continuing their 
subsidy to Jordan, and on December 21 they requested "immedi- 
ate negotiations" on the future of the alliance. 

United States Role 

It was at this juncture that the United States began to play 
a role, at first indirect, which was to determine future develop- 
ments in Jordan. Although the State Department condemned 
the action of Israel, Britain and France in Egypt, the blocking 
of the Suez Canal by President Nasser and the consequent 
interruption of oil shipments to Europe alarmed the American 
oil companies and the State Department and pointed up the 
potential danger of Egypt's ruler. It had become obvious that 
the Soviet Union was behind Nasser and his moves, and the 
very real danger to the Western position in the Middle East if 
the area should become dominated by Russia became a major 

Now, the United States had refused to join the Bagdad Pact 
for fear of offending Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The State Depart- 
ment's policy was based on the assumption that by not becom- 
ing involved in inter-Arab affairs and not appearing as a sup- 
porter of British interests, it would be possible to win Colonel 
Nasser over to the Western camp. On the other hand, since 
Saudi Arabia's opposition to the Pact could not be entirely 
explained by dynastic enmity between the Saudis and the 
Hashimis, it would seem that the main reason was an under- 
lying hostility to Great Britain, not unfanned by the American 
oil companies. The British, on their part, resented the American 


oil companies for having taken over Saudi Arabia and building 
it up as the most powerful of the Arab states, with its ruler 
the most powerful leader in the region, and for urging that 
Middle East policy be based on Saudi Arabia and the House 
of Saud. London constantly tried to focus attention on Iraq 
and her ruling house, and British Middle East policy was 
centered on Iraqi leadership. 

The two central figures in the question of protecting American 
oil interests in the area were Nasser and Saud, the former as 
the key to oil transportation and general political influence, 
the latter as the key to oil production. By the end of 1956 
the State Department and the oil companies began to have 
second thoughts about Nasser. While the Department was not 
willing to retreat from the position it had taken in the Suez 
Canal controversy, it launched a policy aimed at driving a 
wedge between Nasser and Saud. If the former could be isolated, 
several objectives would be achieved: Communist infiltration 
and penetration could be reducecl, if not halted; the flow of 
Middle East oil could be guaranteed; and tension in the area 
could be substantially eased. Two measures were adopted to 
achieve these objectives. The first was the proclamation, on 
January 5, 1957, of the Eisenhower Doctrine. Although the 
ramifications and implications of the Doctrine were never 
made clear, its major purpose was to give formal notice to 
the Soviet Union that the United States would resist Communist 
aggression in the Middle East, by force if necessary. To what 
extent it was meant as a deterrent to the Soviet Union would 
be difficult to determine, but it can safely be asserted that it 
was definitely intended as a warning to some, and as an en- 
couragement to others, of the Middle East countries. 

The second measure was to groom King Saud as the leading 
personality in the Middle East and then to persuade him to 
become the advocate of the Eisenhower Doctrine. This was to 
be achieved by convincing him of the danger to his oil income, 
to his own ppsition, and to his regime from the President of 
Egypt, who was blindly, almost spitefully, following inter- 
national communism. Saud was invited to Washington, where 
he arrived late in January. It would seem that he was persuaded 
to accept the general principles of the Doctrine, and ultimately 
to become its spokesman in the Arab world, though not in 
loud tones. It would also seem that he was persuaded that there 


was a much greater affinity between his country and Iraq, in 
terms of monarchical regimes and in terms of oil interests, 
than between his country and Egypt, and that President Nasser 
was a potential danger to Saud himself as well as to the royal 
regime of Iraq. Now that the British were out of the Middle 
East, there was no reason for him not to cooperate with Bagdad. 
In spite of the personal build-up attempted by Washington, 
Saud apparently did not feel that he could openly oppose and 
attack Nasser, but it seems that he left the United States with 
two definite commitments: not to work with Nasser to bring 
down King Husain of Jordan; and to develop closer relations 
with Iraq. Publicly at least the State Department expressed 
satisfaction with the results of Saud's visit. The British having 
decided to withdraw from Jordan, the initiative in the Middle 
East was now to be in the hands of the United States; the 
burden was henceforth to be carried not by Whitehall but by 
the White House. 

Husain's Maneuvers 

Though King Husain had gone along with the tide and 
signed die agreement with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria, he 
was never convinced that these Arab sister-states would actually 
advance the amounts specified in the agreement. He still hoped 
that, having paid his pound of flesh to extremist agitation, the 
matter would rest there and that he would continue to receive 
the British subsidy, and perhaps ultimately rid himself of the 
Nabulsi government. When the British asked that negotiations 
for the termination of the treaty be undertaken without delay, 
the King became alarmed, for if British financial assistance 
were withdrawn, his country would assuredly collapse. Perhaps 
this was exactly what the Nabulsi government wanted. In any 
event, Husain began to apply the brakes to his Premier's leftist 
march. On February 2, 1957 the Palace released a letter to 
Nabulsi in which the King warned him against the danger of 
Communist infiltration. He cautioned him not to let "a new 
type of colonialism" replace imperialism and called on the 
government to take steps to "destroy destructive propaganda." 
Husain asked Nabulsi to adopt a policy aimed at creating a 
"strong national structure free from communist propaganda 
and Bolshevik teachings." This letter, made public on the eve 


of the negotiations with the British, may have had two alter- 
native objectives. The King's strong anti-Communist and anti- 
Nabulsi position might persuade the British to continue the 
subsidy; or, if the British were irrevocably determined to with- 
draw it, the Americans might appreciate his stand and offer 
assistance, which would enable him to preserve his throne. 

Negotiations began in Amman on February 3. A week later 
the King came out with a second violent attack against com- 
munism. However, all Husain's efforts were to no avail, as far 
as the British were concerned. On the 12th both sides agreed to 
the cancellation of the treaty and the termination of the subsidy 
as of March 1, with a possible extension to no later than April 1. 

The pro-Nasser elements were, of course, jubilant. They were, 
however, perturbed by King Saud's utterances since his visit 
to Washington, and on February 26, when he stopped off in 
Cairo en route home, the heads of state of Syria, Jordan and 
Egypt conferred with him. The communique issued after the 
meeting revealed nothing of the discussions or of any changes 
in orientation; there was nothing, either, that could give com- 
fort to Nasser or Nabulsi in their efforts in Jordan. 

The relations between the King and his Premier went from 
bad to worse. The King began to take steps, through contacts 
with the American Embassy and consultations with old poli- 
ticians, to regain his former powers, while the Nabulsi govern- 
ment worked to limit the King's powers. On February 28 it 
was reported by a Jordanian political leader in Beirut that 
matters had gone so far that the King was in danger of 
assassination. A fortnight later informed persons close to the 
Palace predicted that within a week there would be a showdown 
in which the armed forces would be the decisive factor. At 
about this time President Eisenhower's personal ambassador to 
the Middle East countries, James P. Richards, left for the Middle 
East; it was reported in Beirut that the major difficulty between 
Husain and the government was a possible visit by Richards 
to Amman. 

The question of finances added to all the other difficulties. 
The King was apparently willing to accept American aid, even 
if it meant agreeing to the Eisenhower Doctrine; the cabinet 
was opposed. On March 31 the government decided to resign 
on the ground that Husain had negotiated behind its back, 
he had opposed the new laws, and had refused to clear the 


government staff of "undesirable" elements, as the cabinet 
recommended. Abu Nuwar was in Damascus; it was believed 
that he would tell the King that in case of a clash the army 
would not intervene and this would force Husain to submit 
to the cabinet. At the last moment the government did not 
submit its resignation, on order from Egypt; it was considered 
all too likely that the King would accept the resignation. 7 To 
counteract the King's efforts, on April 4 Premier Nabulsi, after 
announcing the previous day that his government had decided 
to establish diplomatic relations with the tLS.S.R., stated in a 
radio address that Soviet aid would be accepted, if offered, but 
that American aid offers would be rejected because they aimed 
at splitting Jordan and Egypt. Nabulsi asserted that the United 
States government had informed him that American aid would 
be withheld unless Jordan severed "its ties with Egypt." 


The showdown came on April 10 when King Husain asked 
for the resignation of the Nabulsi government. It would seem 
that last-minute efforts to avoid an open clash had failed. After 
a prolonged internal cabinet crisis, Nabulsi had informed his 
colleagues that all difficulties between the King and the cabinet 
were straightened out and the cabinet was going ahead with 
its routine work; suddenly the chief of the Royal cabinet, 
Bahjat Talhuni, entered the Premier's office and told him that 
the King requested his resignation. Nabulsi complied. As a 
safety measure, Husain granted the Director General of Public 
Security, Bahjat Tabbarah, a leave of absence, and promoted 
his own chief aide, Brig. Muhammad Muayta, to the rank of 
major general and named him to the post. Contrary to the 
general expectation that the chief of general staff would deliver 
an ultimatum to the King, Abu Nuwar complied with the 
King's wishes and ordered the army to intervene; he was afraid 
that Husain would make good his threat to name Muayta 
chief of general staff. 

Nabulsi' s removal was only half the task; a new government 

7 Abdul Munim Kifai, Jordan's delegate to the special emergency session 
of the United Nations General Assembly in Aug. 1958, stated that when in 
Apr. 1957 the King asked the cabinet to resign, the government received "a 
telegram from President Nasser of Egypt asking them not to do so." United 
Nations General Assembly, A/PV. 735, 16, Aug. 14, 1958. 


had to be set up. On April II the King asked Fawzi al Mulqi 
to do so, but al Mulqi refused. The King then turned to Husain 
Fakhri Khalidi, but the Nationalist Socialist party refused to 
cooperate with him and he was unable to form a government. 
Husain approached Said al Mufti, and then Abdul Halim 
Nimr, the Defense Minister in the Nabulsi cabinet. 

When some "Free Officers" heard that the King had asked 
al Mufti to form a cabinet, they summoned him to army head- 
quarters early in the morning of April 13 and told him to 
withdraw from the running and instead suggest to the King 
that he call in Nimr, who would form a government similar to 
Nabulsi's; should Nimr fail or not be allowed to follow instruc- 
tions, the army might take serious steps. The King did turn 
to Nimr, as was mentioned, and was just about to accept his 
cabinet in spite of the protestations of some of his closest 
advisers, when the Zarqa incident intervened and changed the 
entire picture. 

Zarqa Incident 

While negotiations for a new cabinet were being frantically 
pursued, the Palace learned that a movement against the King 
was being organized in the army. At the Zarqa military base 
a clash occurred between officers loyal to the King and a group 
of "Free Officers," in which a number of soldiers were killed 
and injured; the local commander finally established authority. 
At Zarqa itself there were demonstrations. When the King 
heard about them he rushed to the scene, taking Abu Nuwar 
with him. On the way they met some soldiers who cheered the 
King, but when they recognized Abu Nuwar they rushed to 
lynch him, accusing him of plotting to kill the King. Husain 
sent Abu Nuwar back to the Palace, and he himself made a 
dramatic appearance in Zarqa. Order was immediately restored 
and all the unit commanders were arrested. 8 On his return to 
the Palace, accompanied by elements of the army, Husain 
ordered Abu Nuwar arrested, but he was permitted to escape 
to Damascus. Nimr, who had come to the Palace with a list 

SGlubb said about the fourteen officers arrested at Zarqa that "each of 
these officers was secretly receiving from Egypt a monthly salary ten times 
as srreat as his army pay. In addition, extra funds were available for use in 
political progaganda within the army, and in persuading other officers to 
join in the intended revolution." A Soldier with the Arabs < 434. 


of his intended cabinet, confident that the King would approve 
it, was met by an official who told him that his services were 
no longer wanted. The King had issued a decree officially 
removing Abu Nuwar as chief of general staff, and had asked 
al Mufti to form a government. The latter's choice of ministers 
was too conservative for the King, and once again he turned 
to Khalidi. 

The streets of Amman were patrolled by loyal bedouin 
soldiers and heavy armor, and the Palace was closely guarded. 
This was not merely to impress the dismissed chief of general 
staff; the situation was very dangerous. There was not only 
the problem of controlling the armed forces, whose loyalty was 
apparently questionable, but also of controlling the pro- 
Egyptian mobs which were demonstrating in Nablus, Ramallah, 
the Old City of Jerusalem, and even in Amman, and which 
were being addressed by former cabinet members. Anti-Husain 
forces had succeeded in interfering with radio transmission in 
Ramallah, and the Amman radio had gone off the air. There 
was no time to lose. 

On April 15 Husain Fakhri Khalidi finally formed a govern- 
ment which included Sulaiman Nabulsi as Foreign Minister. 
Although the leftist parties refused to join and condemned the 
King's activities, and Nabulsi declared that he was in the 
cabinet in a more or less private capacity, it was obvious that 
the King was not in complete control of the situation and that 
he had had to compromise with the anti-Western, pro-Egyptian 
elements. On the 16th further demonstrations took place in 
Jerusalem and Nablus, the demonstrators demanding the return 
of Nuwar. That the pro-Nasser elements were still powerful 
was evidenced on the following day when Premier Khalidi 
declared that his government was working toward a federation 
of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. 

Even while the country was in turmoil, the United States 
announced that it would assist Jordan if she became the victim 
of aggression. In reply to a question, President Eisenhower 
indicated that the basis for such action was to be found in the 
1950 tripartite declaration and the Eisenhower Doctrine. 

Husain Gains Control 

To make unmistakably clear that his dismissal of Gen. Nuwar 


was irrevocable, King Husain promoted Gen. Hayari from 
deputy to chief of general staff. The Khalidi government was 
heavily committed to the Syro-Egyptian axis, so Jordan could 
not obtain American aid. The day on which the British subsidy 
was to end was rapidly approaching. With no replacement in 
sight, the King became desperate. To complicate matters further, 
Syria reinforced her garrison in Jordan with 1,500 additional 

It was perhaps at this juncture that the first change in King 
Saud's policy made its appearance. On April 20 Saud telephoned 
Husain and offered him military aid; he also placed the Saudi 
Arabian troops in Jordan under Husain's command. 9 King 
Faisal also offered military aid. But Husain's troubles were not 
over. That same day, April 20, Maj. Gen. Ali Hayari, the newly 
appointed chief of general staff, on a military mission in Syria, 10 
resigned his command. He accused the Palace of preparing a 
plot, in cooperation with non-Arab military attaches in Amman, 
against Jordan's independence and liberty. 11 As if echoing 

9 The United States, which apparently saw in the Jordanian question the 
real test between communism and the West, was seriously disturbed by the 
possibility of hasty moves that might precipitate a war. Washington warned 
all Jordan's neighbors against any action which might have disastrous results 
(Apr. 19). 

10 When troubles broke out on Apr. 12 the Syrian brigade stationed at 
Mafraq surrounded Irbid and Ramtha, supposedly as a maneuver exercise, 
but actually for the purpose of annexing northern Jordan. The force was 
to march on Amman, but internal command differences prevented it from 
proceeding. Meanwhile Husain learned of the move and threatened Pres. 
Quwatli that he would use the Saudi Arabian soldiers in Jordan against the 
Syrians. The brigade retreated to Mafraq, but Husain now wanted the 
Syrians completely out of his territory, and he sent Hayari to Damascus for 
this purpose. 

11 Some Jordanians sympathetic to the King and yet well disposed toward 
Hayari, explained his resignation on the ground of his refusal to go through 
with the investigation set up on Apr. 19 to conduct a thorough inquiry into 
the previous week's attempted coup by Gen. Nuwar to overthrow the King. 
Some forty to fifty officers were to have come under this investigation, among 
them many of Hayari's old comrades. 

Hayari himself told a somewhat different story. He said that he had been 
asked to sound out top officers as to whether they would be prepared to 
strike against the people in case the latter resisted the formation of a gov- 
ernment "willing to cooperate with imperialism and accept schemes which 
forced Jordan out of the Arab liberation policy of Egypt and Syria." The 
officers with whom he spoke had declared unanimously that they would re- 
fuse. In the light of these replies, the Palace prepared the plot with foreign 
non-Arab military attaches to spread rumors of a coup movement in the 
army. "I proclaim to Arab and international public opinion that there was 
no plot for a coup d'etat against King Hussein. The whole thing is an im- 
perialistic plot aimed at certain objectives." It would seem that Hayari had 


Hayari's accusations, Foreign Minister Nabulsi charged on the 
21st that "certain foreign diplomatic representatives are inter- 
fering in our internal affairs/' and Premier Khalidi declared 
that the government was going ahead with plans to establish 
diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. The press and radio 
in Cairo and Damascus intensified their fierce campaigns against 
King Husain and accused the American Embassy in Amman 
of creating the convulsion in Jordan through direct interference 
in her affairs. Khalidi denied this, but with no effect. 

In spite of the fact that Nabulsi was in the cabinet and that 
Khalidi was following practically the same policies as his pre- 
decessor, the King's swift action temporarily paralyzed the 
Egyptian propaganda machine, but by the 20th it had revived 
and a strong campaign was operating in full gear. The left-wing 
elements in Jordan were determined to bring the government 
down, and on April 24 they instigated a demonstration in the 
streets of Amman demanding the cabinet's resignation. The 
United States was equally determined not to permit the situation 
to deteriorate, and on that same day, after consultation between 
the President and Secretary of State, a statement was issued 
declaring "the independence and integrity of Jordan as vital" 
to American national interests. This was interpreted both in 
the United States and in Jordan as an invitation to King Husain 
to ask for American assistance. 

The last act of the drama which brought down the Khalidi 
government was played by King Husain. Pro-Egyptian elements 
organized themselves as a national steering committee, met in 
Nablus and adopted the following demands: 1) that the Khalidi 
government resign and a new government be appointed, based 
on the Nationalist Socialist, Renaissance, Palestine Arab and 
National Front parties; 2) that the new government categoric- 
ally reject the Eisenhower Doctrine; 8) that the government 
expel the American Ambassador and the military attach^, Lester 
D. Mallory and Col. James Sweeney. These demands were 

accepted his new appointment on condition that he conduct the investiga- 
tion of the Zarqa incident, in which he himself was implicated. However, 
when this condition was subsequently not accepted and he was not named 
to conduct the investigation, he had fled to Damascus, fearing the disclosure. 
Some foreign observers in Amman were of the opinion that a coup had 
been attempted on orders from Cairo. The idea was to reduce King Husain 
to a figurehead and place all authority in the hands of Gen Nuwar and other 
pro-Egyptian forces. For Hayari's report of the Zarqa incident, see Th New 
York Times, Apr. 24, 1957. 











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presented to the cabinet which, though itself divided, decided 
to present them to the King. The cabinet practically assured 
the National Steering Committee that its objectives would be 
obtained, and the latter thereupon cancelled an order it had 
given for mass demonstrations. To Khalidi's chagrin, Husain 
told him that his government could resign if it chose, but he, 
the King, would not surrender to the National Steering Com- 
mittee. The Committee again reversed its order for demonstra- 
tions and these were held on the 24th; they were not very 
effective in Amman, but in the western bank cities they were 
somewhat more successful. 

The Khalidi government, having lost face with the Steering 
Committee and the King, now had no alternative but to resign. 
The resignation was accepted and the old caretaker-cabinet 
hand, Ibrahim Hashim, was asked to take over. The new gov- 
ernment was composed mainly of trusted friends of the House 
of Hashim who had faithfully served King Abdullah. As a 
special security measure, Husain placed the police and security 
forces under the command of the army; he abolished all the 
political parties, dissolved Parliament and suspended the con- 
stitution, declared martial law, and imposed a total day and 
night curfew in Amman, the Old City of Jerusalem, Nablus, 
Ramallah and Irbid. The crisis reached its climax on April 25. 

United States Support 

The United States took vigorous measures to assure Jordan's 
independence. The Sixth Fleet, which included the aircraft 
carrier Forrestal, was ordered to proceed with great dispatch 
from the western to the eastern Mediterranean. Since King 
Husain openly acused international communism of attempting 
to undermine his country's security, the State Department took 
the position that action under the Eisenhower Doctrine would 
be justified. In the other camp, Syrian President Shukri al 
Quwatli suddenly appeared in Cairo for an urgent meeting 
with President Nasser. According to reports, one of the topics 
discussed was an Iraqi demand that Syria withdraw her troops 
from Jordan. Nasser decided to send a delegation to Saudi 
Arabia as soon as the meeting was over. The British on their 
part fully supported the United States' view on the vital impor- 
tance of Jordan's independence, while the Soviet radio and 


press openly charged the United States with interfering in 
Jordan's affairs and attempting to dominate the Middle East. 

On the 26th, some five hundred leading leftists and Commu- 
nists were rounded up and arrested by the army. Defense Minis- 
ter Sulaiman Toukan was sworn in as the military governor of 
Jordan* Syria's and Egypt's efforts to win over Saud apparently 
bore no fruit, for Saud sent King Husain a telegram congratu- 
lating him on the steps he had taken to safeguard his country 
and throne. 

Toukan moved swiftly and with determination. On April 
27, military courts were set up throughout the country to try 
all cases growing out of the political crisis. The National Steer- 
ing Committee was abolished. The King reinstated seven high- 
ranking officials, supporters of his regime, in the posts from 
which they had been ousted by Nabulsi, and he refused to 
confirm a decision made by an earlier cabinet to establish 
relations with the Soviet Union. 

Strictly by police methods Husain succeeded in clamping 
down on the opposition, but his major problem was financial 
aid, and that was not yet solved. To be sure, Washington had 
indicated that if Husain asked for aid it would be forthcoming. 
But was it politically wise to ask the Americans? Husain decided 
to consult with his erstwhile enemy his new friend, the ruler 
of Saudi Arabia. 12 On April 28 he flew to Riad. The next 
morning he submitted a request to the State Department for 
economic aid, and a few hours later (perhaps for the first time 
in history) the request was granted. Jordan was given $10,000,000 
"in recognition of the steps taken by His Majesty King Hussein 
and the Government and people of Jordan to maintain the 
integrity and independence of the nation/' The grant was vir- 
tually without strings, and was to be used for budgetary pur- 
poses. The American Ambassador to Amman plainly indicated 
that this was only the first measure, when he declared that the 

12 Marguerite Higgins, reporting from Washington, made this rather ex- 
traordinary statement in the New York Herald Tribune of Apr. 29: "The 
United States will not, for instance, embarrass the King by demanding that 
he receive the Richard's mission as the price of getting financial aid. If the 
King wants that aid from us, he can get it in other ways. We are prepared 
also to furnish assistance via Saudi Arabia." 

13 According to some newspaper reports, Husain went to Saudi Arabia to 
explain why he would refuse to respond to Syria's and Egypt's proposal to 
King Saud that Jordan be invited to a four-state conference to answer charges 
brought against him by the "positive neutrality" states. 


United States would "maintain a continuing review of Jordan's 
problems with His Majesty's Government to determine what 
further steps may be required," 

It may be that King Saud advised his Jordanian colleague 
to take the American money. Publicly, the ruler of Jordan and 
his government emphasized that they had no intention of invit- 
ing Ambassador Richards, or of having anything to do with 
the Eisenhower Doctrine. It would seem that the Americans, 
both in the Middle East and in Washington, were inclined to 
agree with the King that it would not be politic for Jordan to 
invite Richards or to adopt the Doctrine. 

In order to strengthen further its grip on the country, the 
government on May 1 banned trade unions and employe asso- 
ciations. Three days later the King declared in Amman that 
he and his loyal supporters had "beaten the conspiracies" of 
the leftists. On the 6th the military governor announced that 
Gen. Nuwar, Gen. Hayari and Col. Mahmud al Mussa, former 
chief of intelligence, would be tried in absentia for treason. 

King Husain, with the assistance of the United States and 
aided by the change-over of King Saud from the Syrian-Egyptian 
axis to a new monarchical orientation, had succeeded in sup- 
pressing the pro-Egyptian elements and in ruling the country, 
although practically under martial law.. The role of the United 
States in Husain's determination to break the hold of the pro- 
Egyptian, Communist-supported elements was not clearly dem- 
onstrated. While no United States representative may have gone 
to the King and told him outright to oust Nabulsi and Washing- 
ton would then help him, this might have been indicated to 
him. Once the King began his battle against Nabulsi, -the 
American role was inevitable. 

Hanson Baldwin wrote in The New York Times of March 10, 
1957 that the King's differences with his cabinet were "with 
American encouragement." After interviewing Premier Nabulsi, 
Kennett Love remarked ( The New York Times, March 24) that 
"Jordan's value to the United States would be enhanced if the 
revival of an alliance between the conservative political groups 
and the palace could succeed in ousting the violently pro- 
Egyptian communists and fellow travelers from the government/' 
This statement had all the earmarks of diplomatic advice to the 
King. As a matter of fact, there was open talk in Washington 
of the willingness, even eagerness, of the United States govern- 


ment to help Husain in his struggle with Nabulsi. 

Moreover, the Jordanian ruler must have been advised by 
the Americans to turn to King Saud; if necessary, assistance 
could have been channelled to him via Saudi Arabia. The 
extraordinary speed with which the $10,000,000 grant was made 
indicated that the plan had been very carefully and methodically 
worked out, while the King was still preparing for the final 
showdown with the opposition. The willingness to give Jordan 
a sizeable grant, even though the King refused to accept the 
Eisenhower Doctrine or even allow the President's ambassador 
to come to Amman, further indicated to what lengths the 
State Department was willing to go to break the pro-Egyptian 
front in Jordan. The United States certainly displayed extra- 
ordinary consideration for Jordan's ruler to avoid embarrassing 
him with his fellow-Arabs in Egypt and Syria. 

There can be no doubt that the United States took the until- 
then strongest, most decisive and risky steps in opposing the 
Soviet Union and its Egyptian and Syrian allies in order to 
preserve Jordan's integrity. The dispatch of the Sixth Fleet to 
the eastern Mediterranean was old "gunboat" diplomacy, and, 
as it turned out, it worked. Washington recognized in the 
Jordanian issue the challenge of the U.S.S.R. and took a dif- 
ferent position than it had taken on other issues in the Middle 
East (it did not wait for the United Nations)-unilateral action 
to stop Nabulsi, Syria, Egypt and the Soviet Union. The move 
was successful, not because of the Eisenhower Doctrine, but 
because of United States determination as it expressed itself 
in the Sixth Fleet's movement. Washington had scored a tem- 
porary success in driving a small wedge between King Saud 
and President Nasser, and on the other hand, in drawing closer 
the three Arab rulers-Saud, Faisal, and Husain. But important 
and significant as all these maneuvers might have been, they 
did not really attack the basic problems of the Middle East, 
problems which demanded daring and courageous solutions. 

Chapter XVIII 

What Now? 

WHETHER OR NOT HUSAIN ever expected Egypt 
and Syria to help him, even partially, to meet his 
budgetary needs after the cancellation of the British 
subsidy, the vigorous action he took against the pro-Egyptian 
elements irrevocably closed all doors to Egyptian and Syrian 
assistance. As far as the Arab world was concerned, he had only 
two possibilities: Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The former, though 
a Hashimite sister-state, did not display any willingness to 
advance Jordan financial aid; in fact, she resented the King's 
cancellation of the British treaty and his readiness to deal with 
Nasser and his supporters. Moreover, Iraq had always main- 
tained that the income from her oil was badly needed for her 
own people and she could not afford to help others. As for 
receiving additional aid from King Saud, that was problematical 
along both financial and political lines. Notwithstanding the 
huge sums that the King of Saudi Arabia received in oil royalties, 
his general financial solvency was far from satisfactory. Jordan 
would be fortunate if he continued to contribute the share he 
had promised, let alone larger sums. Though Saud had encour- 
aged Husain in his moves against Nabulsi an implied snub 
at Nasser it was more than doubtful that he would go so far 
as to defy the Egyptian President by giving Jordan financial 
assistance which Egypt, though she had promised it, refused to 
pay. Nevertheless, Husain had to try, for what else could he 
do? He realized that in opposing and challenging Nasser he 
had taken an immense risk, and that if he should again accept 
direct aid from the United States, as he had before from England, 
his prestige might be seriously damaged in the eyes of those 



Arabs who had supported him against Nasser as long as he 
played the Arab national hero. 

In Search of Aid 

Jordan therefore launched a multi-sided campaign. She at- 
tempted to expose Nasser as the agent of the Soviet Union 
working against the interests of the Arab Middle Eastern states, 
and thus line up those countries threatened by Nasser into a 
unified front. On May 11, 1957 it was reported from Amman 
that Egypt, Syria and the Soviet Union were plotting the over- 
throw of all the monarchical regimes in the area Jordan, Iraq, 
Saudi Arabia and Libya-as well as that of the Lebanese repub- 
lic. Ul Urdun reported that in January 1956 Egyptian envoys 
to the Arab states had met in Cairo and decided to attack the 
thrones of Iraq and Jordan. In October of that year a military- 
political board had been formed to implement the decisions, 
and to the thrones of the Hashimi kingdoms to be toppled had 
been added those of Saudi Arabia and Libya. The newspaper 
named the board members prominent important Egyptians, 
Syrians and Russians. Only a few days before the outbreak 
of trouble in April, the Jordanian chief of general staff, Abu 
Nuwar, had received through the Egyptian Embassy in Amman 
a huge sum of money as the price for King Husain's assassination. 

Suddenly, on May 11, King Saud arrived in Bagdad for a 
state visit. What was the meaning of this? Was it only a courtesy 
call, or did it imply some inter-Arab political activity? Would 
King Husain be invited? Would a new Hashim-Saud alignment 
be formed against Nasser? Could Jordan obtain Arab financial 
assistance and survive? The speculations were cleared up when, 
three days later, it became obvious that King Saud was not 
prepared to challenge the President of Egypt openly, and that 
he objected even to Husain's presence in Bagdad lest Nasser 
be offended. To save face, Husain was invited, but with the 
understanding, worked out in advance, that he would decline 
the invitation and thus save Saud from embarrassment. Subse- 
quently, on May 14, it was announced that "due to present 
circumstances" King Husain had declined the invitation to 
come to Bagdad, Moreover, Jordan was apparently advised to 
seek financial assistance elsewhere, for on that very day, in 
spite of the open charges and accusations against Egypt and in 


spite of the April events, the Deputy Premier and Foreign 
Minister Samir ar Rifai, asked Egypt and Syria for their con- 
tributions to Jordan's budgetary requirements. Saudi Arabia 
continued to honor her commitment, and on May 21 completed 
her first installment by presenting $4,200,000 to the Jordan 
treasury. Although dissatisfied with this action, Nasser was 
willing to keep King Saud in his camp. 

King Saud's Position 

Jordan was becoming very much agitated by the continued 
presence of Syrian troops on her territory. It will be recalled 
that Gen. Hayari had been sent to Damascus to arrange for 
their withdrawal. Jordanian pressure, however, was not enough 
to impress Nasser, and only after King Saud intervened did 
Cairo give the order to have the 4,500 Syrian troops withdrawn; 
this was achieved on May 26. In an effort, apparently, to justify 
her refusal to honor her financial commitment to Jordan, Syria 
charged that by asking for the withdrawal of her troops, Jordan 
had violated the tripartite agreement of Syria, Egypt and Jordan 
to place their armies under a single command. To this Jordan 
rejoined that Syrian troops had intervened against King Husain, 
and charged that Lt Col. Abdul Hamid Sarraj, Intelligence 
Chief of the Syrian army, had ordered 800 Syrian officers and 
men to change into civilian clothing, mingle with the Jordanian 
people, and arouse them against their King. 

Meanwhile, on June 8, King Saud arrived in Amman on a 
state visit; this greatly upset Cairo and Damascus, and President 
Quwatli of Syria rushed to Cairo to consult with Nasser. The 
agitation against Husain went on and two days later the 
Jordan government asked for the recall of two Egyptian diplo- 
mats, the military attache in Amman and the Consul General 
in Jerusalem; they were charged with plotting against the 
security of Jordan. In retaliation, Egypt asked Jordan to recall 
her Ambassador in Cairo, and asserted that the Egyptian diplo- 
mats in Jordan were falsely accused 1 

1 The unrealistic atmosphere of inter-Arab politics is illustrated by the 
communique* issued in Amman at the conclusion of Saud's visit. In spite of 
the great tension between Jordan and Egypt, the two rulers reaffirmed their 
military alliance with Egypt and Syria, and only three days later the Jordan 
government closed its embassy in Cairo after recalling the entire staff, and in 
retaliation for which Egypt immediately closed her embassy hi Amman. 


King Husain decided to try once more. On June 22 he went 
to Bagdad in a last-minute attempt to obtain financial aid, but 
his effort failed. Two days later, in a joint communique, Husain 
and Faisal pledged themselves to defend each other, and con- 
demned intervention by Arab countries in the internal affairs 
of other Arab countries; nothing was said about financial aid. 
In desperation, Jordan turned to the United States. And the 
latter was very accommodating indeed. On June 29, only five 
days after Husain had returned from Bagdad, it was announced 
in Amman that the United States would promptly supply the 
Jordan army with $10,000,000 worth of military equipment. 
The very next day it was disclosed in Washington that Jordan 
had been granted another $10,000,000 in economic aid. As a 
move to strengthen Husain, it was announced on July 1 that 
Jordan herself would administer U.S. Point Four aid. The King 
of Jordan had now to struggle against Egypt and Syria with 
American aid which apparently replaced the British subsidy 
on a complete and permanent basis. 

Lebanon's Elections 

Events were developing in other parts of the Middle East 
which were to culminate in a combined crisis. Lebanon had 
always been in a very delicate position in inter-Arab affairs 
because of the composition of her population. Although theo- 
retically a majority, the Christians of Lebanon always felt 
insecure in the Muslim world which surrounded them, and 
they were always looking for safeguards. Being a minority in 
the Arab world, they were willing to play their part in the Arab 
nationalist movement, but they desired to play a neutral or 
neutralizing role in order to preserve their own security. The 
phenomenal rise of Nasser to power and his alignment with 
the Soviet Union frightened them badly and they decided to 
align themselves with the West. Lebanon was the only Arab 
country that formally accepted the Eisenhower Doctrine. This 
was a direct challenge to Nasser and to the Muslim elements 
in Lebanon that hoped for Muslim control of the country. These 
elements were activated to oppose the pro-Western orientation 
of President Camille Chamoun. The test between the two forces 
came to a head at the parliamentary elections in June, 1957. 
The results were a resounding defeat for the anti-Western forces, 











for of the 66 seats, the pro-Western forces obtained forty-six. 
On July 15 the United States Embassy in Beirut announced 
that Lebanon would receive $10,000,000 in economic aid and 
$4,700,000 in military aid under the Eisenhower Doctrine. Thus, 
in a short time Nasser was thwarted in Jordan and in Lebanon, 
and in both places because of the United States; as his backer, 
the Soviet Union was outraged. Countermoves had to be made. 
Syria was now the avenue through which both Russia and 
Nasser could act against the United States. On July 6, Radio 
Damascus broadcast a joint Syro-Soviet Union statement an- 
nouncing close cooperation between the two countries. Defense 
Minister Khalid al Azm went to Moscow, where he declared 
that the Syrian army would stand by the side of the Soviet army 
whenever the need arose. Subsequently, Soviet Foreign Minister 
Dmitri Shepilov visited Syria, and President Quwatli visited 
Moscow, all of which led to a full Soviet-Syrian arms deal 
similar to the Egyptian-Soviet deal. Anti-Western agitation in 
Syria reached a new height, and on August 10 Afif Bizri, a strong 
pro-Soviet army officer, was promoted to chief of staff of the 
army. Two days later President Quwatli went to Egypt to 
consult with Nasser* 

Syro-Turkish Crisis 

An international crisis was in the making. Accusations against 
outstanding Syrian leaders of conspiring with foreign agents 
against the regime were made public. Two United States Em- 
bassy officials were charged with complicity in the conspiracy 
and were expelled from the country; in retaliation, the United 
States expelled the Syrian Ambassador. The relations between 
Syria and Turkey deteriorated, and the United States sent a 
special envoy, Loy W. Henderson, Deputy Undersecretary of 
State, an old hand at Middle Eastern affairs, to the area post- 
haste. There was talk of applying the Eisenhower Doctrine to 
the Syrian situation, but die President somewhat hesitantly 
declared that it could not yet be said that Syria was dominated 
by international communism and it would therefore be pre- 
mature to discuss applying the Doctrine. Henderson reported 
that the Syrian events might have "serious effects on the security 
of the whole free world," and as a result the United States 
announced that arms would be given to Saudi Arabia and Iraq, 


and arms were airlifted to Jordan. Secretary of State Dulles 
expressed the hope that the international communists would 
not push Syria into acts of aggression against her neighbors; 
the United States Sixth Fleet sailed past the Syrian coast. Syria, 
on her part, solidly backed by the Soviet Union, accused Turkey 
of massing troops along the Syrian borders with intent to invade. 2 

The reaction of the United States to the arms deal between 
Moscow and Damascus was similar to its reaction to the Cairo- 
Moscow arms deal, and as in the earlier instance, a representa- 
tive was hastily dispatched to the Middle East; but unlike the 
first time, Henderson did not get to Syria but conferred only 
with Syria's neighbors; his report was alarming. In both cases 
the first panicky reaction gave way to a more sober considera- 
tion of the situation. The position was clear. While the United 
States saw in the arming of Syria a Soviet attempt to control 
that country, the Soviet Union listed Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq 
as the United States bloc against Syria. What was Nasser's 
position now? Up to that time Syria had for all intents and 
purposes been an appendage of Nasser's and he had controlled 
both the Syrian army and the political situation. Would this 
military and economic strengthening of Syria mean a weakening 
of Nasser's hold, and if so, would he continue to work with the 
Soviets against the West? Reports were circulated that Nasser 
was unhappy about the developments in Syria; to counteract 
the rumors, he found it necessary to declare on September 9 
that "Egypt will continue to give unlimited and unconditional 
support to Syria." But rumors of hostility toward Syria per- 
sisted, perhaps not without inspiration from Egypt herself. The 
new strong man of Syria, Afif Bizri, after visiting Cairo, declared 
on September 12 that his talks with Nasser and Egyptian mili- 
tary officers were "very amiable," and that the armies of the 
two countries "are one, with one command, and one plan." 
The general impression in the Western world, however, was 
that the Syrian-Soviet understanding was a challenge to Nasser, 
and that Nasser was determined to reduce Russian influence 
in Syria. 

While this was going on, the situation along the Jordan-Syria 
border was growing worse. On October 17 the Jordan govern- 
ment charged that the "devils of communism" in Syria had 

2 For the underlying causes of Syrian unrest, see M. Perlmann, " In the 
Street Called Straight/ " Middle Eastern Affairs, VIII, 526-333, Oct., 1957. 


"drawn up a plan and are preparing to attack sister states"; 
and in a note handed to the Syrian charge d'affaires in Amman 
on the 19th, Jordan accused Syria of activities intended "to 
create disorder and an atmosphere of confusion in Jordan/' 
The following day King Husain stated that the regime in Syria 
endangered the whole Arab world. At this tense juncture, sup- 
posedly pro-Western Saudi Arabia was siding with the opposi- 
tion, for on September 23 Amir Faisal, his country's Premier 
and Foreign Minister, declared that Syria posed no threat to 
her Arab neighbors. 3 

Tension was rising in Jordan and Lebanon. On September 19 
a military court in Jerusalem sentenced eight men to prison 
terms ranging from fifteen to nineteen years, and twelve others 
to shorter terms, for participating in riots the previous April. 
Six days later a military tribunal in Amman sentenced in absen- 
tia the former chiefs of general staff, Maj. Gen. Ali Abu Nuwar 
and Maj. Gen. Ali Hayari, and former Foreign Minister Abdul- 
lah Rimawi, to fifteen years' imprisonment for conspiring to 
overthrow King Husain. In the middle of October widespread 
searches were launched for persons suspected of inciting to revolt 
and for hiding arms. On October 12 a military court in Jerusa- 
lem sentenced three Communists to long prison terms, and 
three days later Khalid Himshawi, who was considered a dan- 
gerous Communist, was sentenced to eighteen years' imprison- 

In Lebanon, the authorities indicted 400 persons on Septem- 
ber 25, including former Premiers Abdullah al Yafi, Saeb Salam 
and Hassan Owaini, on charges of attempting an armed coup 
and inciting to riot during the parliamentary elections in May. 
Early in November the press and radio campaign in Damascus 
and Cairo against Husain was intensified. And the Jordan chief 
of general staff, Maj. Gen. Hafiz Majali, charged Egypt with 

3 The retreat of King Saud was by now complete, for after an unexpected 
visit to Damascus the King said, on Sept. 27: "I wish to declare without 
ambiguity or doubt, and with the sincerity for which I am known to my 
Syrian brothers and to the Arabs in general, that I deplore every aggression 
on Syria and on any other Arab country from whatever source it comes and 
that I will oppose with my Syrian brothers and with the other Arabs any 
aggression against them and against their independence irrespective of its 
source." Saud, who was reportedly ready to accept the Eisenhower Doctrine 
and to be its advocate in the Arab world, accepted without reservation the 
Soviet Union's charges that the West, especially the United States, was delib- 
erately creating tension in the Middle East and planning aggression against 


smuggling arms and explosives into Jordan for the purpose of 
bringing down the regime. The tension was so high that the 
United States charged the Soviet Union with having joined 
Egypt and Syria in a campaign to eliminate Husain. 

The Soviet Union meanwhile was not wasting the opportu- 
nity presented by the artificially created Syro-Turkish crisis. On 
October 6 it openly charged, in a complaint to the United 
Nations General Assembly, that the Turkish army, guided by 
United States advisers, was planning an attack on Syria imme- 
diately after the Turkish general elections were over, on October 
27. The U.S.S.R. urged that the Assembly take up the issue. 
While the charge was officially made against Turkey, the actual 
accusation was against the United States, which was allegedly 
using the Turks as their agents against Syria because of the 
latter's refusal to be intimidated by American threats. 4 

International tension was further increased when it was re- 
vealed that for a month Egypt had been sending armed forces 
into Syria and that they had taken up positions along the 
border with Turkey. Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev also warned 
Turkey that the might of the Soviet Union would be used to 
aid Syria. Washington warned Moscow against such a st'ep and 
reassured Ankara that the United States would stand by its 
obligations to Turkey. 

The Soviet objective was achieved. On October 18 the Gen- 
eral Assembly voted to debate the Syrian question. Not only 
did this give the Soviet Union an opportunity to utilize the 
world forum for its own purposes, but by calling the world's 
attention to the plot, the Soviet Union would be credited with 
having thwarted the Turkish-American plan to attack Syria. 
The close cooperation of the Soviet Union, Egypt, and some 
elements in Syria in exploiting the situation was evidenced when 
King Saud, in an attempt to avoid an acrimonious debate in 
the United Nations between two Muslim countries, offered his 
mediation. At first it was announced that both sides *had accepted 
the invitation and had agreed to send delegations to Dhahran. 
Then President Quwatli of Syria withdrew his consent; the 
pressure applied on him in Syria and from Egypt forced his 
retreat. Reports about the acceptance by both sides nevertheless 
persisted and the General Assembly suspended debate for three 

4 Text of the Soviet Union letter to the President of the General Assembly 
is in Middle Eastern Affairs, VIH, 415-417, Dec., 1957. 


days in the hope that Saud might succeed in his mediation 
efforts. But with Syria's refusal to accept mediation, the Assem- 
bly resumed the debate, with the Soviet Union launching a 
violent attack against the United States. Two draft resolutions 
were submitted: one by Syria, asking for the appointment of a 
fact-finding commission to investigate the situation along the 
Turkish-Syrian border; and the other by the United States, 
asking that the Secretary General discuss the situation with the 
parties concerned. Neither draft resolution reached the voting 
stage. The purposes for which the Soviet Union had raised the 
issue had been accomplished. The Turkish parliamentary elec- 
tions had taken place, and the attack which the Soviet Union 
had alleged would follow never materialized, of course due to 
the alert of the Soviet Union. Syria had been saved from the 
Western imperialists by the Soviet's watchfulness and devotion 
to the Arab cause. Nor was Syria too eager to have a commission 
investigate the entire situation, as the West demanded. The 
crisis was allowed to fade away, but it was the preliminary act 
for the next major move. 

On November 1, Egypt's War Minister and commander in 
chief of the combined Egyptian and Syrian armed forces went 
to Moscow to discuss the situation in the Middle East. The 
planned amalgamation of Egypt and Syria was advanced a step 
on November 13 when the two countries signed a trade and 
payments agreement aimed at developing "trade relations be- 
tween the two countries to the greatest possible degree prepara- 
tory to comprehensive economic union." King Husain saw in 
the closer association between Egypt and Syria increasing danger 
to himself and his country. He accused both of conspiring against 
Jordan and declared that there was "no doubt that Egypt and 
Syria are instruments of international communism against Jor- 

Syro-Jordan Tension 

After the Syro-Russian multi-million ruble economic agree- 
ment was signed on October 28, the Jordanians felt that the 
United States should aid them on a similar scale. The Minister 
of Economy, Khulusi Khairi, called on Washington to counter 
the Soviet move. Apparently in response, the United States 
announced at the end of November that 1 10,000,000 had been 


advanced to Jordan for economic development. This fell far 
short of what the Jordanians expected, and at the end of Decem- 
ber, Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Samir ar Rifai (the 
real head of the government) declared in Amman that Jordan 
would need about $50,000,000 annually in United States aid 
for the next five or ten years to develop her economy and main- 
tain her armed forces; Jordan was counting on the United States 
"not to let us down/' In order to vindicate his country in the 
eyes of the Arab world for accepting assistance from the United 
States, ar Rifai stated that the America aid must be given 
without strings attached. 5 

The Egyptian and Syrian campaign against Jordan was being 
waged relentlessly. Measures were taken at home and appeals 
were made to Arab leaders abroad to help ease the pressure. 
The president of the Jordan House of Deputies appealed to 
King Saud and to President Chamoun of Lebanon to intervene 
with Egypt. On December 10 the government expelled three 
Syrian Embassy officials in retaliation for the Syrian anti-Husain 
campaign. At home, new measures were taken against possible 
subversion, and at the end of November the King authorized 
the formation of a military court to try all persons held in 
concentration camps. 

With the opening of the new year, general Middle East 
problems became more than ever an issue in inter-Arab politics 
as well as in the East-West alignments. The Bagdad Pact coun- 
tries were to meet in Ankara, and Secretary of State John Foster 
Dulles announced that he would personally attend. Premier 
Nuri as Said of Iraq came to Washington to lay the ground for 
developments he hoped would emerge from the forthcoming 
Ankara meeting; he tried to persuade the United States to 
follow a Middle East policy that would be more sympathetic 
to the Arabs at the expense of Israel and thus strengthen Iraq's 
position against Egypt. The Soviet Union launched a new anti- 
American campaign, made attempts to draw the West into a 
summit conference to deal with the Middle East, and accused 
Secretary Dulles of going to Ankara for the purpose of betraying 
the Arabs. 

5 The calculation of $50 million was apparently based on the annual gov- 
ernment budget of some $75 million, only one-third of which was raised from 
internal sources. However, since about $40 million was spent on the army, it 
would be doubtful that the $50 million asked for would have enabled Jordan 
to do much about economic development. 


Arab Unions 

After some preliminary moves, President Nasser and President 
Quwatli announced in Cairo on February 1, 1958 that Egypt 
and Syria had merged into one state, to be called the United 
Arab Republic. This union, though not altogether unexpected, 
upset and disturbed the other Arab states, especially those who 
opposed Nasser, as well as the Western powers. Former Premier 
of Iraq Fadil al Jamali called the new union abnormal and 
unnatural. Countermeasures were taken. King Faisal of Iraq 
arrived in Amman on February 10; two days later he was joined 
there by the Iraqi Crown Prince, Abdul Illah; on the 14th it was 
announced that Iraq and Jordan had formed a federation of 
which Faisal was to be the head. 

Within a short time two moves had been made toward Arab 
unity, both of which, it would seem, were motivated by forces 
other than the ideal of uniting the various Arab elements in 
the Middle East. The Egyptian move was no doubt aimed at 
gaining control of a very unsteady Syria, which was at the time 
lined up against the West and in close relations with the Soviet 
. Union. Since Syria in the past ten years had been the most 
agitated and unstable of all the Arab countries, its orientation 
shifting from one side to the other depending on the dictator of 
the moment, it was imperative for Nasser as well as for the 
Soviet Union to ensure that she remain in the "positive neu- 
trality," anti-Western camp. This could be achieved only through 
absolute control through a merger. From the opposition to 
Nasser, stemming primarily from Iraq and based on a long- 
range objective in terms of Arab leadership and hegemony, and 
from Jordan on the basis of the immediate threat Egypt posed, 
a new federation emerged The question of union between 
Iraq and Jordan, geographically contiguous and both ruled by 
members of the House of Hashim, had come up time and again 
during the last twenty years, but each time except when there 
were particularly critical inter-Arab differences Iraq had shied 
away, Bagdad was not willing to take on the economic burden 
which poor and backward Transjordan would impose on the 
Hashimite kingdom along the Euphrates. But when Egypt took 
over Syria, Iraq, with ambitions of her own to annex Syria and 
gain an outlet to the Mediterranean, rushed into a union with 








Jordan, perhaps with sufficient encouragement from the Western 
powers, to counteract the Egyptian move. 

For each side the union was only the first step; each hoped to 
go on to greater areas. As a countennove to the Iraq-Jordan 
federation, the President of Egypt took steps to unite his new 
republic with Yemen, and he had his eye, too, on Saudi Arabia 
to complete his anti-Hashimi line-up. The Iraq- Jordan federa- 
tion also looked toward Saudi Arabia, with the idea in mind 
of a monarchical federation, and it was intimated that King 
Saud would become the head of the new federation if he joined. 
The Bagdad Pact, however, appeared as a major stumbling 
block to such an extended federation. Since King Saud was 
always fearful of the possibility of revenge from the Hashimis 
because of his father's conquest of the Hijaz, Saud objected to 
any move that might give Iraq or Jordan a leading position in 
the Arab world, and he had therefore always been willing to 
join with Egypt against the Hashimites. The Bagdad Pact was 
a case in point. Before the King of Saudi Arabia could be in- 
duced to join the federation, which would be a monarchical 
citadel against the revolutionary United Arab Republic, it 
would be necessary for Iraq to withdraw from the Pact. 6 

Saudi Arabia's Neutrality 

It would seem that this was Western speculation, especially 
on the diplomatic front, rather than inter-Arab thinking. In 
their deep desire to have Saudi Arabia join the Jordan-Iraq 
federation, Western diplomats looked about for concessions, 
and it was they, rather than Iraq, who were willing to sacrifice 
the Bagdad Pact for the greater good to be achieved from Saud's 
joining the Hashimite states. 

Nasser reacted in typical fashion. Taken by surprise, he con- 
gratulated Faisal on the "blessed step" toward Arab unification. 
But after he had had time to reflect, and after the new federation 
had begun to woo King Saud and perhaps with the proper 

6 Interestingly enough, this speculation apparently alarmed the Turks and 
they made inquiries of the Iraqis regarding their membership in the Pact. On 
Feb. 17 the Iraqi Ambassador to Ankara reassured the Turkish government 
that "reports attributed to certain foreign sources to the effect that during 
the talks on the establishment of the federal Arab state by the unification of 
Iraq and Jordan, withdrawal of Iraq from the Bagdad Pact was put forth as 
a condition for the unification" were "entirely unfounded and untrue." 


"hints" from Soviet diplomats Nasser launched a vituperative 
campaign against the federation and even against King Saud, 
the potential member. During his stay in Damascus in the latter 
part of March, Nasser declared a relentless war against the 
imperialist stooges in Jordan and Iraq. He averred that the 
union of the two was a false federation, and it would "be scat- 
tered like dry leaves before the wind/' The new federation, he 
said, was aimed at opposing the United Arab Republic. As for 
King Saud although on March 1 he had declared his neutrality 
in so far as the Arab union contest was concerned this was not 
sufficient for Nasser, and on the 5th Lt. CoL Abdul Hamid 
Sarraj of Syria accused Saud of plotting to assassinate Nasser 
and of attempting to thwart the Syro-Egyptian union. The 
break between Nasser and Saud was now open and complete; the 
President of Egypt tried to besmirch Saud's reputation among 
the Arabs as one who opposed Arab unity and who was working 
with the Western powers to eliminate, by murder, the very sym- 
bol of the new united Arab spirit. 

The Western diplomats suddenly became very hopeful that 
this break between Nasser and Saud, especially because of the 
criminal charges Nasser had made against the King, would 
surely persuade the Saudi Arabian monarch to join the federa- 
tion even if Iraq retained her membership in the Bagdad Pact. 
But Arab politics have their own patterns. Nasser's bombshell 
did more to drive Saudi Arabia away from the federation than 
toward it. 

Nasser was aware of the deep-seated differences, if not the 
hostility, between King Saud and his brother Faisal. He knew 
of the King's weak character and of Faisal's ambitious designs. 
He knew that the latter opposed the former on every question. 
And since Saud was supposed to be pro-Western, Faisal would 
assume an anti-Western position. For a long time Faisal had 
been looking for an opportunity to deprive Saud of his powers 
and arrogate them to himself. The charge that Saud was plotting 
to kill Nasser was the very thing Faisal had been looking for. 
Faisal, who had made his pro-Syrian position clear even while 
he was in Washington during the Syro-Turkish crisis, now took 
over control of Saudi Arabia. Saud became a mere figurehead. 
While Faisal might not be a willing tool in Nasser's hands, he 
certainly would not be willing to cooperate with Iraq, and his 
general anti-Western orientation, which was more perhaps to 


spite his brother than out of personal conviction, made him 
within limits a decided support of Nasser's. 

The struggle was now reduced to one between the Arab Union, 
as the Jordan-Iraq federation was officially named, and the 
United Arab Republic. The immediate area of attack for the 
expansion of the U.A.R. became Lebanon. The opposition fac- 
tions, mainly Muslim, were inspired and rallied by forces from 
Syria; they were urged to rebel against the constituted authori- 
ties. Should the effort in Lebanon succeed and the pro-Nasser 
elements come to power, the next move would be toward Jordan, 
the weaker part of the Arab Union, and the last move toward 
Iraq itself. All pro- Western or Western-motivated elements would 
be eliminated. 

Iraq-Jordan Union 

Before going on to the developments in the struggle between 
the two unions, let us examine the nature of the union of Jordan 
and Iraq, and what it was to mean for Jordan. In the official 
proclamation of February 14, it was provided that the two states 
were to preserve their independent existence and sovereignty 
over their respective territories, and were to retain the existing 
regimes. International alliances or conventions which either 
state had signed before federation were not to commit the other, 
but apparently were to be effective as far as the signer was 
concerned. Steps were to be taken to unify foreign policy, dip- 
lomatic representation abroad, the armies, customs, law and 
education. Both states were to agree as soon as possible on 
measures to unify the currency and coordinate economic and 
financial policy. The federal state was to have executive and 
legislative bodies, and an equal number of members from each 
existing parliament was to be chosen for the federal legislature; 
the executive body was to be named in accordance with the 
federal constitution. The head of the federal state was to be 
King Faisal of Iraq; in his absence King Husain was to be the 
head. Each king preserved his constitutional authority in his 
kingdom. The federal capital was to be Bagdad for six months 
and Amman for six months. The existing constitutions of the 
two states were to be amended according to the requirements 
of the proclamation. 

Some of the Western powers saw in this federation not only 


a challenge to Nasser's expansionist plans, but possible answers 
to some of the most baffling questions that were plaguing the 
Middle East as well. Jordan, overpopulated and economically 
hopeless, would now have a lease on life by having Iraq as an 
area of economic activity; the federation would certainly reduce, 
if not completely eliminate, Jordan's financial dependence on 
the United States. This would not only ease the American 
responsibility, but what was more important, remove in the 
eyes of some of the Arab nationalists the stigma from Jordan 
of being an American dependency. Above all, it would solve 
the refugee problem of Jordan, for Iraq was in need of addi- 
tional population. The relatively advanced Palestinians, now 
citizens of the federation, would find opportunities in Iraq, 
and would help with the general development of that oil-rich 
country. But in spite of the federation, were the Iraqis ready to 
unite fully with the Transjordanians for political reasons vis-i- 
vis the United Arab Republic, and for general Arab reasons? 
From the very first moves made by the Iraqi government it 
would seem that in spite of the fanfare, Iraq expected Jordan 
to continue to be financially supported by the United States 
(on March 4 the U.S. agreed to give the Jordanian government 
$5,000,000, half of the $10,000,000 granted for economic aid, to 
be used instead to cover the budget deficit). In the federal budget 
adopted, Jordan was expected to contribute 20 per cent and 
Iraq 80 per cent, which corresponded roughly to the population 
ratio between the two countries. The only source of funds for 
Jordan to contribute her 20 per cent share was the United 
States. Nor were the restrictions imposed by Iraq on Jordanian 
citizens indicative of a merging of the two populations into 
one economic and political unit. Before the various problems 
could be worked out, events had moved so quickly that those 
problems had become academic. 

Inter-Union Friction 

Relations between the Arab Union and the United Arab Re- 
public deteriorated rapidly. On March 3, in retaliation for the 
violent attacks on King Husain, Amman reinstated the require- 
ment of passports for all Syrians who wished to enter Jordan, 
and imposed serious restrictions on Syrian residents in Jordan. 
The following day the government barred all Syrian trucks from 


passing through Jordan on their way to Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi 
Arabia. On March 5 Syria charged that Jordanian forces had 
fired on Syrian border guards. In Cairo, Nasser intensified his 
campaign against Jordan and against Lebanon, where the situa- 
tion was becoming tenser from day to day. In Tyre, at the end 
of March, pro-Nasserite students clashed in the streets with army 
units. On April 2 new riots broke out in Tyre, in which four 
persons were killed and 10 wounded. The immediate cause of 
the subsequent events in Lebanon occurred on May 8 when 
Nasib al Mitni, owner of the anti-government, pro-Nasser news- 
paper Telegraphe was assassinated in Beirut. Disturbances broke 
out the next day in Tripoli, where the United States Informa- 
tion Service library was sacked and burned, and fifteen persons 
were killed and 128 wounded. The opposition called for a 
general strike. On May 12 armed insurrection broke out in 
Beirut, and the general strike in the northern part of the 
country crippled the normal life of Lebanon. A curfew was 
imposed in Beirut. Lebanon's Foreign Minister, in a diplomatic 
note, charged the United Arab Republic with responsibility for 
the riots. On the 14th, the government of Lebanon appealed 
to the United States for help; the latter responded by sending 
shipments of police equipment. Washington announced that it 
was reinforcing the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the eastern Mediterranean. 
On the following day bomb explosions in Beirut killed ten 
persons. The situation was fraught with extreme tension; the 
United States announced that it was responding to the Lebanese 
government's request by speeding shipments of tanks for the 
sole purpose of helping Lebanon prevent "subversive efforts and 
facilitate the restoration" of order. This evoked a charge from 
the Soviet Union that the United States was interfering in 
Lebanon's internal affairs. On May 19 the fighting spread to 
the southern part of the country, and the government deported 
1,000 Syrian nationalists. 

Disturbances in Lebanon 

In an effort to prevent the inter-Arab conflict from reaching 
the outside world, the Lebanese government appealed to the 
Arab League for help against the intervention of the United 
Arab Republic. This was only a gesture, for the Lebanese gov- 
ernment was well aware of the controlling influence which the 


United Arab Republic had in the councils of the League. The 
League did nothing. On May 22 the Lebanese delegate to the 
United Nations, in a letter to the President of the Security 
Council, asked for an urgent meeting to consider a "complaint 
by Lebanon in respect of a situation arising from the inter- 
vention of the United Arab Republic in the internal affairs of 
Lebanon, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the 
maintenance of international peace and security." The interven- 
tion was described as infiltration of armed forces from Syria, 
destruction of Lebanese life and property, participation of 
United Arab Republic nationalists in acts of terrorism and 
rebellion against the established authority, supply of arms from 
Syria to individuals and bands in Lebanon which were rebelling 
against the established authority, and waging a violent radio 
and press campaign in the United Arab Republic calling for 
strikes, demonstrations, and the overthrow of the established 
government. 7 

The Security Council took up the complaint on May 27, but 
as proposed by the representative of Iraq, debate was postponed 
until after the Arab League Council had dealt with the issue. The 
representative of Lebanon was also anxiom to have the debate 
postponed, for if the Arab League should find a solution to 
the problem, the complaint would not have to be debated 
before the Council. 

Security Council Role 

The Arab League Council, meeting on neutral territory in 
Benghazi (Libya), could do no more than express platitudes 
about Arab brotherhood and unity. Lebanon returned to the 
Security Council and consideration of the complaint was begun 
on June 6. In presenting the case, Lebanon's Foreign Minister, 
Charles Malik, declared that had it not been for the fact 
that Lebanon's complaint was placed before the United Na- 
tions, the Arab League would never have taken up the issue, 
and that when the League did take it up, its main effort was 
to have Lebanon withdraw the complaint from the Security 
Council. Lebanon had, of course, refused unless the League put 

7 United Nations, Security Council, Letter dated May 22, 1958, from the 
Representative of Lebanon to the President of the Security Council, S/4007, 
May 23, 1958. 


a halt to the United Arab Republic's interference; the League 
was completely incapable of achieving such an end. 

After the Lebanese Foreign Minister outlined the charges 
against the United Arab Republic and documented them, he 
pointed out the intensity of the radio and press campaign 
against his country by declaring: "There is no war between 
Lebanon and the United Arab Republic, and yet I doubt if, 
in the darkest hours of the Second World War, the Press of 
the belligerents used the same sort of unrestrained violence 
against each other as the Press of the United Arab Republic 
has been using lavishly against the Government of Lebanon." 
Quoting copiously from the Egyptian press, he stated that 
after the case was taken up in the Council of the Arab League, 
"the intervention, far from abating, has actually increased in 
intensity in the last day or two. Now our independence, our 
fate, and peace in the area, perhaps even in the world, are your 
responsibility/' 8 

Sweden introduced a draft resolution on June 10 calling for 
the sending of a United Nations observation group to Lebanon 
"so as to ensure that there is no illegal infiltration of personnel 
or supply of arms or other material across the Lebanese 
borders." A heated debate between the representative of Iraq, 
a member of the Security Council, and the representative of 
Egypt, as a party to the dispute, ensued. The Soviet Union 
urged that the Security Council reject the Lebanese complaint 
"as baseless and unjustified"; the United States, Great Britain 
and France enthusiastically supported the Swedish proposal. 
The Council adopted the resolution on the llth, by ten votes, 
with the Soviet Union abstaining. 9 In response to the resolu- 
tion, the Secretary General organized an observation group and 
dispatched it to Lebanon. 

In spite of the Council's efforts and the arrival of the group 
in Lebanon, the situation became worse. On June 10 it was 
reported in Washington that the United States and Great 
Britain, after a meeting between President Eisenhower and 
Prime Minister Maonillan in Washington, had completed 
arrangements to reinforce Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon with fifty 
jet fighter planes. Early in July it was reported in Beirut that 
twelve Jordanian army officers had been arrested for an at- 

8 United Nations, Security Council, S/PV. 823, June 6, 1958. 

9 United Nations, Security Council, S/PV. 828, June 11, 1958. 


tempted coup. On July 12 Jordan authorities arrested sixty 
officers, including King Husain's bodyguard and accused them 
of plotting to assassinate the King; it was believed that the plot 
was financed and directed by the United Arab Republic. Nor 
was the situation in Lebanon less tense. President Chamoun 
asked for United States intervention, and Secretary of State 
Dulles indicated that there was a good case for the United States 
to respond to the call of Lebanon, for on June 13 fighting 
broke out in Tripoli, and on the 14th an all-day battle took 
place in Beirut, where rebel forces attacked a police station and 
a prison; the casualties in the fighting in the capital were 
estimated to be one hundred dead. At the end of June fighting 
was resumed in Tripoli and early in July the Druses were openly 
engaged against government forces. 

The appeal made to the United States by the President of 
Lebanon was not answered until the coup in Iraq. On July 14 
Iraqi army "Free Officers" seized control of Bagdad, massacred 
the King, the Crown Prince and other government leaders, 
and announced the end of the monarchy. The leader of the 
coup, Brig. Abdul Karim al Kassim, announced the formation 
of a three-man ruling Council of State and the appointment 
of a new cabinet. Washington and London saw in this Iraqi 
coup the extension of Nasserism and both were determined 
to stop .Nasser from gaining control of Lebanon and Jordan. 
As a result, President Eisenhower announced that United States 
marines were being landed in Lebanon, in response to an 
"urgent plea" from President Chamoun with the concurrence 
of all the members of the Lebanese cabinet, in order "to help 
maintain security and to evidence the concern of the United 
States for the integrity and independence of Lebanon." 

Foreign Troops in Lebanon and Jordan 

The United States, agreeing with Lebanon, in spite of the 
reports to the contrary made by the Observation Group, that 
the measures so far adopted by the United Nations were in- 
effective and had not eliminated the danger to Lebanon's 
independence and security and as a result had to land troops, 
called for an urgent meeting of the Security Council to discuss 
the situation and adopt measures that would relieve the United 
States of its task in Lebanon. 


The Security Council met on July 15 and on its agenda was 
the previous item: the complaint of Lebanon against the United 
Arab Republic. The Soviet Union introduced a draft resolution 
which, after condemning the landing of U.S. forces in Lebanon, 
called for their immediate withdrawal. The United States also 
introduced a draft resolution; it called for the support and 
strengthening of the Observation Group in Lebanon; for further 
measures by the Security Council to make contingents available, 
as necessary, to protect Lebanon's territorial integrity; and for 
measures which would make possible the early withdrawal of 
United States forces. 

The situation in Jordan was also very serious, and King 
Husain appealed to the United States and Great Britain for 
help. The British responded with troops; the United States 
supplied equipment and other materiel. 

Was the intervention through the landing of troops in 
Lebanon and Jordan the ultimate aim of the Western powers? 
Was it meant as a warning to Nasser and the Soviet Union that 
the West would resist, and as a manifestation of determination 
and encouragement to the pro-Western elements in the Arab 
world? Or was the intervention to have gone beyond that? If the 
coup in Iraq was the extension of Nasserism, what would 
eventually happen to the Western position, especially the British 
position in the Persian Gulf? If Iraq became another province 
of the United Arab Republic, what would happen to the oil 
of Iraq and Kuwait, and even of Saudi Arabia? Should not an 
attempt be made to restore the old regime in Iraq, as had been 
done in 1941 after the Ali al Gailani revolt? Perhaps this would 
be possible through the instrumentality of the Arab Union, of 
which Husain claimed to be the legal head. Perhaps he could 
mobilize his Arab army and march on Bagdad while British 
forces maintained order and security in Jordan. 

Definite answers to these questions depended on three major 
factors: the reaction of world public opinion to the initial 
landings; the reaction of public opinion in Great Britain and 
the United States to further military operations; and the atti- 
tude and position of the Soviet Union, The nature of the coup 
itself and the position of the new Iraqi regime shortly became 
a fourth factor. That there was some consideration of possible 
military action against Iraq could not be doubted; this was 
evident from the declarations made by King Husain when he 


assumed the legal leadership of the Arab Union. At first he 
was not discouraged from doing so, and the United States and 
Great Britain helped the representative of the Arab Union to 
sit in the Security Council, rather than the newly appointed 
Iraqi representative. Moreover, since the major reason for the 
troop landings in Lebanon and Jordan was the coup in Iraq, 
the inevitable sequel should have been some measures against 
the Bagdad regime. However, the immediate battle between 
the Soviet Union and the West took place in the United Nations 
Security Council. On July 17 the Council added to its agenda: 
a letter of "complaint by the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan of 
interference in its domestic affairs by the United Arab Repub- 
lic." Addressing the Council, Jordan's representative, Baha 
Uddin Toukan, listed his country's charges against the United 
Arab Republic and told the Council that "the threat to Jordan 
lay also in the plot, recently discovered and nipped in the bud, 
to overthrow its existing regime, and also in the movements of 
United Arab Republic troops from Syria along its northern 
borders. Last week a number of army officers were arrested, and 
investigation disclosed it had been the intention of the plotters 
to destroy Jordan's independence and integrity." 10 

Security Council Paralyzed 

The United States, to meet some of the doubts about the 
U.S. troop landing in Lebanon raised by Sweden and Japan, 
modified the language of its original draft, which urged the 
United Nations to adopt measures to protect Lebanon and 
Jordan against external, if indirect, aggression of the United 
Arab Republic. This would convict the United Arab Republic, 
if only by implication, of the charges brought against it by 
Lebanon and Jordan. To meet the new development in Jordan, 
the Soviet Union also modified its resolution, which condemned 
the landing of British troops in Jordan and American troops 
in Lebanon, and demanded their immediate withdrawal. If 
this resolution were adopted, it would condemn the Western 
powers for military intervention in the Middle Eastern countries 
and completely exonerate the United Arab Republic of the 
charges brought against it by Lebanon and Jordan. 

It must have been clear both to the United States and the 

10 United Nations, Security Council, S/PV. 831, July 17, 1958. 


U.S.S.R. that neither resolution would be adopted by the 
Security Council the Soviet resolution because of insufficient 
votes, and the American resolution because of a Soviet veto. 
Both apparently were battling for world public opinion, and 
the issue would have to be fought out again in the General 
Assembly, where the veto could not be exercised. When the 
resolutions were voted on the Soviet draft failed completely, 
only the U.S.S.R. voting for it, Sweden and Japan abstaining, 
and the other eight members of the Council voting against. The 
United States resolution also failed, although it received nine 
votes; Sweden abstained and the Soviet vetoed it. Immediately 
after the voting, the United States introduced a new resolution, 
calling for an emergency session of the General Assembly "in 
order to make appropriate recommendations concerning the 
Lebanese complaint." However, since Japan was preparing a 
compromise resolution, the United States held back its draft 
resolution for the time being. 11 

Japan's resolution fared no better than had that of the United 
States. The Western powers voted for it, reluctantly and hesi- 
tatingly, since it was very weak in content and objective, but 
the Soviet Union vetoed it (July 27). The Security Council now 
had before it two draft resolutions, a Soviet and an American, 
calling for an emergency session of the General Assembly. 

The Security Council was held back from sending the 
Lebanese and Jordanian complaints to the General Assembly 
by two important factors. One was a Russian effort to remove 
the issue from the United Nations and make it the subject of 
a summit conference of heads of government; the other was the 
unexpected developments in Iraq. 

The Soviet Union and a "Summit" Meeting 

On July 20 Jordan officially broke off relations with the 
United Arab Republic, and at the same time announced that 
it had received from the United States $12,500,000 worth of 
economic aid, $5,000,000 of which was to finance oil transport 
by air, and $7,500,000 was for whatever economic purpose the 
government desired. A few days later Jordan learned that two 
of its ministers in the federal cabinet, who were in Bagdad at 
the time of the coup, had been assassinated by the rebels. King 

11 United Nations, Security Council, S/PV. 834, July 18, 1958. 


Husain was still acting as the head of the Arab Union. Now, 
after the first flush of close cooperation between Iraq and the 
United Arab Republic, Egypt's blunt request that Iraq join 
the United Arab Republic gave the leaders of the new regime 
in Bagdad second thoughts about their relations with Cairo. 
They began to display a rather cool attitude toward Nasser's 
republic, and they went out of their way to reassure the 
Western powers that the Iraqi regime intended to respect the 
contractual obligations and permit the orderly flow of Iraqi 
oil to world markets. After sober reflection and in light of 
the developments, the West adopted a policy aimed at con- 
ciliating Iraq and preventing her from falling into the anus 
of Nasser. Perhaps the Iraqi regime could be completely wooed 
away from Nasser, and it might even return to the Bagdad 
Pact. Indeed, the statements of some Iraqi spokesmen, especially 
those at the United Nations, did not at all discourage such 
possibilities. The Western powers as well as the Middle Eastern 
members of the Bagdad Pact promptly recognized the new 
regime. King Husain was "persuaded" to give up his claims 
to the headship of the Arab Union, which he promptly did 
on August 2 when he announced the dissolution of the Union, 
and reverted to his status of King of Jordan. Husain was now 
to continue his struggle against Nasserism with the generous 
assistance of the United States for his economic as well as 
military needs. However, because of British and American 
assistance, the struggle between Jordan and Nasser became more 

The Soviet Union was convinced that in the present situation, 
unlike in the 1956 Suez Canal affair, the Western powers were 
solidly united in their opposition to the machinations of Nasser. 
Having the Middle East issue transferred to the General Assem- 
bly would not advance the Soviet objective; in fact, there was 
a fair possibility that the United States might muster a majority, 
if not a two-thirds vote, for its resolution. From the point of 
view of the U.S.S.R., a debate in the Assembly should be avoided. 
A new forum which would give Moscow a maximum of propa- 
ganda potential with a minimum of risk of being outvoted had 
to be found. On July 19 Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev 
sent letters to President Eisenhower, Prime Minister Macmillan 
and Premier de Gaulle, as well as to Prime Minister Nehru of 
India and United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, 


in which he proposed a meeting of the four heads of state, 
together with Nehru and Hammarskjold, to discuss the Middle 
Eastern situation. The inclusion of India was meant not only 
to obtain support for the Soviet's position against the landing 
of troops, but also to embarrass the West vis-k-vis India; the 
Western powers could not refuse to include Nehru lest they 
antagonize India, and they could not afford to include him 
for he would certainly side with the Soviet Union against the 
West. For the Soviet Union the mere inclusion of India in the 
list could only increase its prestige in Asia and Africa and 
make it popular with the masses in India. A positive response 
of the Western powers to the invitation would be a recognition 
that the Soviet Union was a determining force in the Middle 

On July 22 Eisenhower, Macmillan and de Gaulle answered 
Khrushchev's letter; they indicated willingness to meet as heads 
of government, but Macmillan proposed that the meeting must 
be within the framework of the Security Council; that no resolu- 
tions were to be submitted unless they arose from previous 
agreement; and that the primary purpose should be to reach 
agreement rather than to register differences by votes. A day 
later Khrushchev sent a second letter to the heads of government, 
accepting the condition that the meeting take place within the 
framework of the Security Council, but insisting that India be 
invited, that only heads of government participate, and that 
since the situation was so critical the meeting should take place 
on July 28, in New York. 

On July 25 President Eisenhower replied that if the proposed 
meeting took place, it must cover the entire Middle East 
situation and not merely the Anglo-American intervention in 
Lebanon and Jordan; that it must be governed by the rules 
laid down by the Security Council, and hence no one except 
the members of the Security Council and those directly involved 
could be invited. 

In this exchange of correspondence between the heads of 
government, Moscow took full advantage of the propaganda 
opportunity and repeated, contrary to the accepted character 
of diplomatic correspondence, all its accusations against the 
West, especially against the United States, which the Soviet 
representative had constantly made in the Security Council. 
The most abusive letter was that of July 28 to the President 


of the United States. Not only did the Soviet Premier repeat 
all the old charges, but in very undiplomatic language he 
accused the United States of retreating from its original accept- 
ance of the invitation. He again reiterated his readiness to 
meet anywhere, including Moscow, and invited President Eisen- 
hower to set the date. On August 1 the President replied: that 
the meeting must be a Security Council meeting limited to 
the heads of government or foreign ministers, and he proposed 
August 12 as the date. Macmillan and de Gaulle sent similar 
replies to Khrushchev. 12 

Before the General Assembly 

On August 5 Khrushchev suddenly withdrew his willingness 
to meet within the framework of the Security Council and went 
back to his original proposal of a completely independent 
summit conference. Realizing, however, that this was out of 
the question for the moment, he returned to the original Soviet 
proposal in the Security Council That same day the Soviet 
representative asked for an emergency meeting of the Council 
to consider a proposal for the convening of the General Assembly 
to "discuss the question of the withdrawal of the United States 
forces from Lebanon and of the United Kingdom forces from 
Jordan." " 

On August 7 the Security Council met and the very items to 
be referred to the General Assembly became the issue of dis- 
cussion. The United States argued that the items to be referred 
be the complaints of Lebanon and Jordan against the United 
Arab Republic, since these were the items on the Security 
Council's agenda; the Soviet Union argued that the main prob- 
lem was Anglo-American intervention. A compromise was 
worked out by referring to "items 2 and 3 on" the Security 
Council agenda "as contained in Document S/Agenda/838." 

12 For the texts of the letters, see United Nations Security Council, S/4064, 
July 23, 1958; S/4067, July 28, 1958; S/4071, S/4072, S/4074, S/4075, Aug. 1, 

13 United Nations, Security Council, S/4078, S/4079, Aug. 5, 1958, There 
was speculation that Khrushchev's about-face was caused by the resentment of 
Communist China at the Soviet handling of the Middle East question-com- 
pletely ignoring China in a question in which she felt she had a vital inter- 
est. Especially disturbing to Peiping was Khrushchev's consenting to a meet- 
ing of the heads of state within the framework of the Security Council in 
which Chiang Kai Shek might be seated. 


Items 2 and 3 were, of course, Lebanon's and Jordan's com- 
plaints. The Security Council voted unanimously to transfer 
the items to the General Assembly, and on August 8 the third 
special emergency session was opened. On the agenda was 
"Questions considered by the Security Council at its 838th meet- 
ing on August 17, 1958." 

In the light of the general improvement in the situation, 
from the Western point of view for Iraq did not fall into the 
hands of Nasser, and in Lebanon Gen. Fuad Chehab was elected 
as a compromise President, with good prospects of easing the 
tensionthere was no longer the urgency for immediate action. 
If a draft resolution implying that there was a threat to Lebanon 
and Jordan were adopted, no matter how pale and watered 
down, it would be a justification in the eyes of the world of 
the Anglo-American intervention. Moreover, the debate in the 
General Assembly might be a good opportunity to raise the 
question of regional economic development, which, if properly 
attacked, might not only lower the immediate tension, but break 
the deadlock throughout the area. It was obvious that neither 
a United States draft resolution calling for a United Nations 
force to take over from the American and British forces, nor 
a Soviet draft resolution condemning the troop landings and 
recommending their immediate withdrawal, would receive the 
necessary two-thirds vote. The United States therefore did not 
introduce any resolution; instead, President Eisenhower per- 
sonally appeared in the General Assembly on August 13 and 
outlined a program for solving the immediate as well as the 
long-range problems of the Middle East. These included 
measures by the United Nations to guarantee order and peace 
in Lebanon and Jordan; steps to avoid a new arms race spiral 
in the area; and an economic development plan to assist and 
accelerate improvement in the standard of living of the peoples 
in the Arab states. 

As dramatic as was the President's appeal, as sincere the 
motivation, as sound the program outlined, it soon became 
evident that the Assembly could not adopt it even as a point 
of departure. No sooner had the President finished speaking, 
then Andrei Gromyko, the Soviet Foreign Minister, delivered 
a scathing denunciation of the American and British interven- 
tion in the Middle East and introduced a resolution calling for 
the immediate withdrawal of their forces. Five days of fruitless 


debate followed, then Norway, in conjunction with Canada, 
Colombia, Denmark, Liberia, Peru and Paraguay, introduced 
a draft resolution, the main operative provision of which called 
for sending the UN Secretary General to the Middle East to 
work out a scheme, with the consent of the states concerned 
and through the United Nations machinery already existing in 
the area, by which order could be maintained. The Soviet Union 
in its resolution had included a provision that would strengthen 
the United Nations Observation Group, although only for the 
purpose of supervising the withdrawal of the foreign forces. 

There were objections to the Norwegian resolution from dif- 
ferent quarters and repeated revisions were necessary. Jordan 
persistently maintained that she would not accept United 
Nations forces on her soil to maintain order and security.* 4 
The debate dragged on for several more days, without any 
definite prospects that the Norwegian resolution would receive 
the necessary two-thirds vote. Suddenly, on August 21, Mahmoud 
Mahgoub of the Sudan, speaking in the name of all the Arab 
states represented in the Assembly (the Arab League states, 
Tunisia and Morocco), introduced a draft resolution. Since all 
the antagonists in the conflict were participating as sponsors 
of the resolution, Norway announced that she would not ask 
priority rights for her draft resolution. Secretary of State Dulles, 
the head of the United States delegation, supported the Arab 
resolution, but concluded his statement with a warning: "The 
fact that the nations which complained and the nations which 
were complained against now are in agreement is a good augury. 
It does not, of itself, mean that we can take the future for 
granted, but we can and do look to that future hopefully." 
Foreign Minister Gromyko of the Soviet delegation told the 
Assembly that his country would not seek priority rights for 
its draft resolution. 

The many speakers who came to the rostrum to express their 
reaction to the Arab draft resolution seemed to have been swept 
by emotions of human brotherhood and by pious hopes for a 
great future. Nothing but praise was heaped on the Arabs for 

14 On Aug. 14 Abdul Munim ar Rifai, the Jordanian representative, speak- 
ing on the question of sending United Nations forces to Jordan, told the 
General Assembly: "Such measures and arrangements must not envisage by 
any means the despatch of United Nations Forces or United Nations Observers 
to be stationed on Jordan territory or to guard the Jordanian frontiers." 
United Nations, General Assembly, A/PV, 735, Aug. 14, 1958. 


their efforts at unity. Actually, however, everyone gave a sigh 
of relief at having been pulled out of a difficult and hopeless 
predicament, which, if allowed to run its full course, would 
have resulted in a serious setback for the world organization. 
All the delegations knew that nothing concrete would come out 
of the resolution, for the forces that had brought about the 
present situation were still operative, that the Arab League, 
which was to be the source of peace as outlined in the resolution, 
could not prevent the situation from developing, and when it 
had developed, was powerless to handle it. The Charter of the 
Arab League, on which the resolution was pinned, guaranteed 
the integrity and inviolability of all member-states. Yet two 
member-states had come to the United Nations seeking pro- 
tection from the attacks of a third League member. The dis- 
interested parties were glad to be relieved; even the Soviet 
Union, having used the General Assembly to the utmost for 
its propaganda purposes, saw no further purpose in pressing 
its own resolution and supported the Arab draft. 15 The following 
resolution was unanimously adopted: 

The General Assembly f 

Having considered the item "Question considered by the Securi- 
ty Council at its 838th meeting on 7 August 1958", 

Noting the Charter aim that States should "practice tolerance 
and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors", 

Noting that the Arab States have agreed in the Pact of the 
League of Arab States to "strengthen the close relations and 
numerous ties which link the Arab States, and to support and 
stabilize these ties upon a basis of respect for the independence 
and sovereignty of these States, and to direct their efforts toward 
the common good of all the Arab countries, the improvement 
of their status, the security of their future and the realization of 
their aspirations and hopes", 

Desiring to relieve international tension, 


1. Welcomes the renewed assurances given by the Arab States 
to observe the provision of Article 8 of the Pact of the League 
of Arab States that "Each member State shall respect the systems 
of government established in the other member States and regard 
them as exclusive concerns of these States", and that "Each shall 

15 Middle Eastern Affairs, IX, 325-326, Oct., 1958. 


pledge to abstain from any action calculated to change estab- 
lished systems of government"; 

2. Calls upon all Member States to act strictly in accordance 
with the principles of mutual respect for each other's territorial 
integrity and sovereignty, of non-aggression, of strict non-inter- 
ference in each other's internal affairs, and of equal and mutual 
benefit, and to ensure that their conduct by word and deed 
conforms to these principles; 


Requests the Secretary-General to make forthwith, in consulta- 
tion with the Governments concerned and in accordance with 
the Charter, and having in mind Section A of this resolution, 
such practical arrangements as would adequately help in up- 
holding the purposes and principles of the Charter in relation 
to Lebanon and Jordan in the present circumstances, and thereby 
facilitate the early withdrawal of the foreign troops from the 
two countries; 


Invites the Secretary-General to continue his studies now under 
way and in this context to consult as appropriate with the Arab 
countries of the Near East with a view to possible assistance 
regarding an Arab development institution designed to further 
economic growth in these countries; 


1. Requests Member States to co-operate fully in carrying out 
this resolution; 

2. Invites the Secretary-General to report hereunder, as 
appropriate, the first such report to be made nojt later than 
30 September 1958. 

As to Jordan, nothing was changed. The internal difficulties 
remained the same; for a while Nasser had been quiet and then, 
as on previous occasions, he reactivated his forces with ever 
greater intensity. The British forces were slowly withdrawn. 
After the Secretary General visited the area and worked put 
a plan, in an effort to implement the General Assembly resolu- 
tion, by which the Jordanians accepted the United Nations 
"presence," the issue returned to the regular General Assembly 
for debate. 



The political pattern of the Kingdom of Jordan durin'g the 1 
period of Husain's reign was hardly different from what it had 
been under his grandfather; it emerges clearly from the descrip- 
tion of events recounted in the last three chapters. Half a dozen 
men, most of them Transjordanians and loyal in varying degrees 
to the House of Hashim, served time and again as premiers, the 
only reason for their repeated resignations being some personal 
disagreement with the King. Said al Mufti, Tawfiq Abul Huda 
and Samir ar Rifai were the most frequent actors on Jordan's 
political stage, the ever-present Ibrahim Hashim could be safely 
counted on to head the not-infrequent caretaker governments;' 
in the last year-and-a-half before the merger of Jordan and Iraq, 
he was premier in name only. 16 The great majority of the 
members of Parliament were independents, and their loyalty 
to cabinets and issues shifted as constantly as the sands of the 
desert, and this was true even after the last elections, during 
which political parties were operating in a more organized 
fashion. The alignments and realignments were so frequent that 
it was almost impossible to keep up with the real reasons 
behind the many changes. Perhaps the best explanation is the 
personal element. 

King Husain himself had no particular political ideology and 
no special theory of regime except to maintain himself on the 
throne and preserve the independence of Jordan in some form. 
He was neither particularly pro-Western nor especially anti- 
Soviet* Knowing well the financial needs of his country, his 
primary concern was to secure a source of income to meet the 
budgetary requirements of the government? As the king of an 
impoverished territory and ruling over a discontented Arab popu- 
lation in Palestine, which his grandfather had annexed, he was 
sensitive to Arab extreme nationalist opinion and willing to go 
along with it as long as it would preserve his throne. His 
opposition to the President of Egypt was personal, not ide- 
ological. He was well aware that Egypt and Syria would not 
supplant Great Britain in supplying him with the aid he needed, 
and he held on to the British as long as it was politically 

16 Hashim was one of the two prominent Jordanians who were murdered 
in Bagdad, where he was serving as Deputy Premier of the Arab Union. 




feasible. When the pressure became too heavy, he capitulated 
to Nasser, hoping that perhaps he could fit into the Nasser 
scheme. He dismissed Glubb, renounced the Anglo-Jordanian 
treaty, and lost the British subsidy, But when he realized that 
Nasser meant to eliminate him completely, especially after the 
parliamentary elections which brought Nabulsi to power, he 
had no alternative but to return to the West. Fortunately for 
him, the West, in the form of the United States, was ready to 
supply his military and economic needs, and on perhaps even 
better terms than the British. 

Since April 1957 when the United States saved him from 
Nasser's claws, Husain had followed an anti-Nasser policy, and 
his echoing it in terms of anti-communism made him eligible 
for American aid. His eagerness to unite with Iraq this would 
reduce his personal powers to some extent stemmed from the 
hope of improving the economic conditions of his hapless coun- 
try, and from a desire to please the West, which was seeking an 
anti-Egyptian alignment as a countermove to the United Arab 
Republic. For a short time it looked as if out of the tragedy that 
had befallen his cousin Faisal, Husain, with Western help, 
inight attain the leadership of the Arab Union, but this hope 
was quickly shattered when the Western powers recognized the 
new Bagdad regime and Husain had to "dissolve" the Arab 

There can be little doubt that King Husain displayed con- 
siderable personal courage in his struggle, during the past two 
years, with the various anti-Hashimi, anti-Western, and pro- 
Nasser forces in Jordan, and that many times he risked his life 
when he appeared on the scene of conflict. But it must be remem- 
bered that all his moves were motivated by considerations for 
his very existence; he had no alternative. Capitulation to Nasser- 
ism would not have meant an accommodation to the new reali- 
ties, but committing suicide. The only other alternative would 
have been to fight Nasserism with the support of the West. 

As to conditions in Jordan itself, the factors that contributed 
to the situation which brought in British troops in July 1958 
did not change. Whether the West was to meet Nasser's next 
move swiftly and decisively remained to be seen. 

Chapter XIX 

Development Pattern 

as determined by the geographic and human historic fac- 
tors, is easily discernible up to 1948. The attempt by the 
British, the latest in a long line, to rehabilitate the neglected 
territory and extend the sown into the desert progressed rather 
satisfactorily, though not at the pace at first anticipated. The 
economic connection between Transjordan and western Pales- 
tine was mutually beneficial, and in time more and more land 
in Transjordan would have been cultivated and the products 
sold to neighboring countries. Moreover, some of the country's 
raw materials would have helped to complement the basically 
agricultural economy. To some extent Transjordan was regain- 
ing its position as a highway for. oil pipelines and East- West 
air and highway routes. Even with the British slowly surrender- 
ing more and more power "to Abdullah, the pattern which they 
had set and formally established would have continued, and a 
new period of revival and emergence from semi-nomadism into 
a state of settlement would have been ushered in. 

Annexation a Disruption 

These normal processes of growth were violently upset when 
Transjordan became involved in the Arab-Israel war and when. 
Abdullah, in the hope of partially realizing his Greater Syria 
scheme, annexed the parts of Arab Palestine occupied by the 
Arab Legion. This act, in the teeth of the opposition of all his 
enemies and in view of his inability to achieve a peace with 
Israel quickly, introduced an abnormal and disruptive force in 
Transjordan's development. It made the country more than 



ever dependent on British, United Nations and United States 
assistance, without in any way influencing the loyalty and devo- 
tion of the added population, and without achieving new 
economic potentials. 

The Arab-Israeli war and the annexation of Arab Palestine 
brought out the fundamental shortcomings in inter-Arab rela- 
tions and the inability of the Arabs to unite for a common 
cause; they sharpened inter-Arab rivalries and animosities to 
the point of paralyzing any united Arab effort. The Arab-Israel 
war was no doubt one of the greatest disasters that had befallen 
the Arab movement in modern times. It was not merely a 
military defeat; what was of much greater and of tragic impor- 
tance was the exposure of the emptiness behind the oft-proclaimed 
Arab unity slogans, slogans which had paraded in the Arab 
world for solid forces destined to affect the realities in the 
region. Also exposed was the very limited conception on the 
part of the Arab leadership of the issues involved and the means 
necessary to cope with them. The records of some of the councils 
of war held by the top Arab leaders reveal that the Arabs, far 
from being a force in the modern world, were living in a dream 
world of their own. As lamentable as these facts may have been 
in themselves, they would not have been of such serious conse- 
quence to the Arabs and to the world in general had not the 
Middle East question been taken out of Arab hands and made 
into an issue in the East-West struggle. 

East-West Struggle 

Even after their defeat, the Arabs, left to themselves, would 
at their own pace and in their own way have adjusted them- 
selves, in spite of their constant protestations to the contrary, 
to the new realities. Even the annexation of Arab Palestine 
would in time have become an accepted, even though resented, 
fact. To be sure, threatening voices would have been heard from 
time to time against Israel and against Abdullah, but they would 
not have been as menacing as they sounded; they would have 
been part of the Middle East's general pattern of conduct, a 
flavorsome ingredient of the general hyperbolic language. Life 
and language, reality and talk are always great distances apart 
in the Arab tradition. Unfortunately, the Arabs were pulled 
violently out of their normal behavior patterns and thrown 


into the midst of the rising struggle between the Soviet Union 
and the Western powers. The former saw in the Arab outbursts 
of hatred an opportunity to be exploited for its own propaganda 
purposes, and fanned them to fever heat, beyond the control 
of the Arabs, and adroitly channeled the hatred against the 
West. The Soviet Union, working on the accumulated rancor 
in the Arab world against the West, gave the Arabs a con- 
venient outlet in the familiar name-calling of colonialism and 
imperialism; it persuaded the Arabs that the military disaster 
was nothing but the handiwork of the West. Suffering from 
feelings of inferiority, unwilling to blame themselves for their 
difficulties and eager to find a scapegoat for their failures, the 
Arabs were only too glad to accept the accusations the Soviets 
hurled at the West. What they did not realize was that this 
almost avid acceptance of the Soviet accusations would lead 
to action, action which would be against their own interests. For 
the Soviet Union was not interested in the welfare of the Arabs 
a fact that Arab nationalists did not understand; it was merely 
utilizing their situation for its own end. The Soviet Union 
supplied arms to Egypt and then to Syria. The immediate 
explanation for the supplying of this military equipment was 
the Arabs* enemy, Israel; in actuality, it was meant to be used 
by one Arab country against another. This would serve the 
Soviet purpose by first eliminating the West from the area, and 
then by bringing chaos and revolution. 

Western Objectives and Methods 

The Western powers were interested in the very opposite. 
They wanted peace and stability in the area and prosperity for 
its inhabitants, and they were prepared to help the Arabs 
establish better living conditions and raise the general standard 
of living. They were, unfortunately, diverted from these ob- 
jectives by attempts to compete with the Soviet Union for Arab 
favor. In one way or another they tried to bring the Arabs into 
the Western camp, or at least into a Western orientation. Thus 
neither the West, and certainly not the Soviet Union, advised 
the Arabs-who had only recently emerged as independent na- 
tions, who did not have too much experience and were without 
sufficient means to stand on their somewhat shaky feet in the 
present fast-developing, tense international world what their 


real needs were. The Arabs were not told that they must con- 
centrate their efforts on developing their economic resources, 
that they must adjust the social structure of their countries to 
the new realities, and that through their own efforts they must 
develop a political regime consonant with modern needs. Instead 
they became the object of competition between East and West, 
and since the more reckless of the two blocks was the Soviet 
Union, the extreme Arab nationalists fell into the trap set by 
the men in the Kremlin. 

Nasser's Role 

Once Nasser joined the Soviet camp he was no longer a free 
agent. He could no longer proceed at his own pace to pursue 
his own original objectives. Knowingly or unknowingly he had 
to serve the Soviet cause and to proceed at the speed which 
fitted Soviet purposes. Arab nationalism became a very good 
instrumentality for those purposes. At first, right after the revolu- 
tion against Faruq, Nasser was more intent on reconstructing 
Egypt than on reconstructing the Arab world; the Egyptians were 
his first consideration and he condemned the Wafdist politicians 
for involving the country in Arab politics which he felt were 
no concern of the Egyptians. He meant to lead the Egyptian 
people out of their backwardness, which had been prolonged 
by the corrupt regime of Faruq; to an advanced stage of 
progress, and to install an honest political regime. He was 
oriented more toward Africa than Asia. He was diverted from 
this limited objective to become the spokesman and the fore- 
most leader of the Arab world, the personification of Arab 
nationalism. This served Soviet aims perfectly, for in his effort 
to save the Arabs, Nasser would only bedevil the entire Middle 

Arab Nationalism and Nasserism 

Now, Arab nationalism is not something the Soviets invented, 
or Nasser discovered. It existed long before communism came 
to power, and long before the world heard of Nasser. It devel- 
oped during the latter part of the last century and the early 
part of the present century. Most of its early advocates were 
influenced by two factors: the memories of the Arab golden 


period of the Middle Ages, when the Caliphs wielded great 
power over extensive areas of the world; and the nationalist 
theories imported from the West. At the beginning the Arab 
nationalists did not aim at political independence; they dreamt 
of cultural and linguistic autonomy, and they would have been 
satisfied to become an integrated unit within the Ottoman 
Empire; it was the exigencies of World War I that brought 
political independence as an aim. While the term "nationalism" 
is used, a distinction must be made between the Western concept 
of nationalism and nationalism as it is understood by the Arabs. 
Modern Western nationalism was conceived in terms of a com- 
mon culture, a common history and a common language, based 
on a specific territory with specific political institutions and 
practices, and secular in character. Nationalism was recognized 
as a collective force of self-expression and self-determination; 
it was generally defensive in character, as it aimed to free 
a definite national group from the oppression and domination 
of another national unit. In some instances it was the expres- 
sion of the desire of a national group broken up and fragmented 
to re-unite. Although some national groups were united by 
religion, religion as such was not the basis of national unity, 
except where the religion was exclusively limited to the national 

These Western ingredients were not generally present in the 
case of the Arabs. To be sure, they all possessed a common 
culture, a common language and a common tradition. But terri- 
tory in Arab history was never clearly defined; political institu- 
tions were never specifically identified with Arabism as such; 
nor have modern Arabs developed either political or social 
theories which they have come to identify as national in charac- 
ter. The great force in Arab life was Islam, and Islam did not 
possess the concept of separation of church and state; Islam is 
all-embracing, it provides the guides to conduct in all aspects 
of life, making no distinction between matters political and 
civil and things religious. Arab nationalism is not secular in 
character, yet the early fathers of Arab nationlism spoke of 
Arab nationalism and Islamic nationalism as if they were 
identical. While some Western-trained Arab nationalists may 
have thought of ultimately modifying Arab nationalism by 
adding some Western elements, thereby achieving a nationalism 
based on democratic political institutions and secular in nature, 


to the average Arab, nationalism could only mean a revival of 
the old glories of Islam pan-Islamism. 

Position of Arab States 

In spite of the experience of the separate Arab states which 
were carved out of the Turkish Empire in Asia after World 
War I, the purely Western concepts of non-interference in the 
affairs of other states and the inviolability of frontiers were 
and are notions not so sanctified in Islamic Arabic tradition. 
Since nationalism to the Arab is not based on a territorial con- 
ception, he does not understand why, living in Syria, he must 
not interfere in Jordan, or living in Egypt he must not interfere 
in Lebanon. On the contrary, since the aim was the revival of 
the old Islamic empire, there could be no boundaries, and no 
consideration could be given to local regimes. 1 Indeed, the 
realization of the new golden era must not be by modern 
techniques of persuasion and conviction, but by methods of 
conquest as in the olden days. 

Nevertheless, if left to themselves the various Arab states 
would, under the impact of events, have slowly established local 
national patriotisms, with which they would identify themselves, 
and ultimately they would have formed a greater unity, encom- 
passing the interests common to all the states. The Middle 
East would have had to experience a secular political revolu- 
tion, a middle class would have had to emerge as the mainstay 
of the socio-democratic basis of the modern state, and an 
economic growth would have had to develop which would have 
made possible a general adjustment to world conditions. Instead, 
because of the pressure of the East-West struggle, the antagonism 
between the different Arab leaders was not only deepened, but 
it was driven to the breaking point, and Nasser's objective 
became the leadership of Egypt and Egyptian hegemony in the 
Arab world. Nasser suddenly saw himself cast in the role of 

1 Ahmad Shukairi, representing Saudi Arabia at the special session of the 
General Assembly of the United Nations, stated on Aug. 15, 1958: "If you do 
not fathom the depth of Arab nationalism, you cannot reach the right con- 
clusions in the present debate. If you speak of the Arabs as nations or as peo- 
ples, you cannot secure the preservation of peace in that part of the world. 
If the premise of the United Nations is that the Arabs are peoples are 
nations then all your standards for aggression, your very conception of inter- 
ference, will fall to the ground," United Nations, General Assembly, A/PV. 
736, Aug. 27, 1958. 


Salah ad Din (Saladin). Paradoxically, it was expected that the 
illiterate Arab masses, hardly aware of the needs of their com- 
munity beyond the limits of clan or village, would become 
conscious of the great unity of which they were a part and would 
be prepared to promote and protect the Arab national values, 
by force if necessary. 

Nasserism in the Ascendance 

Actually, Arab nationalism in the form of Nasserism, as it 
developed in the last few years, was not nationalism in the 
Western sense; certainly it was not the legitimate drive of any 
national entity to live free and unhampered in order to realize 
its collective potential in the community of nations. Arab 
nationalism as the world recently witnessed it was a brute force 
of conquest, its immediate objective the Arab world, its ultimate 
objective to expand over all of Islam and then to emerge as 
the arbiter between East and West. The expression "positive 
neutrality," coined by the President of Egypt, might originally 
have meant an accommodation on his part to his close align- 
ment with the Soviet Union, but, driven to leadership of 
aggressive Arab nationalism, "positive neutrality" might easily 
have become the third great world force, which would dictate 
to both the East and the West. 

Soviet Support 

The Soviet leaders, of course, encouraged Nasser in his ambi- 
tions; they knew he could not achieve his aims because of the 
nature of the Arab peoples and because of general world 
conditions. The West, competing with the Soviets, compromised 
with Nasser's Arab nationalism. From time to time it made 
a gesture or a move against Egypt's President, but almost always 
it was a half-hearted move or gesture, for the West continued 
to nourish the hope that, even under Nasser's leadership, the 
Arabs, with proper handling, could be brought closer to it. 
Except for the landing of troops in Lebanon and Jordan, the 
democratic powers have not displayed any determination to 
challenge the Soviets by challenging Nasser. If their immediate 
position did not seem to be too gravely endangered, they were 
willing to allow Nasserism to have its way, hoping that some- 


how they could live with it. The Middle East was thus con- 
fronted on the one hand with dynamic Nasserism fully supported 
by the Soviet Union, and on the other hand with an opposition 
only moderately assisted by the West, and even that not on a 
sustained basis. The West's feeble attempts to slow Nasser down 
and develop a counterbalance to his leadership failed. The 
Bagdad Pact, the grooming of King Saud, and even the troop 
landings in Lebanon and Jordan were- ineffective, both in nature 
and in methods of execution. 

It was this dynamic Nasserism that Jordan had to contend 
with. The Arabs of Palestine preferred Nasser's Arab nationalism 
to Husain's weak Western assistance. Yet so artificial was that 
Arab nationalism that Husain, even with the very limited sup- 
port he received from the West, was able to resist the attacks 
of the United Arab Republic. 

But for how long Husain could resist the persistent attacks 
of the forces of the new brand of Arab nationalism would 
depend entirely on how resolute the West was. If the United 
States and Great Britain, in their eagerness to compete with the 
Soviet Union, accepted Nasserism and "came to terms" with it, 
then the first victim would be Jordan. It would be followed 
by other Middle Eastern countries, not so much because of the 
inherent force of Arab nationalism as because of the powerful 
drive the Soviets were putting behind it. 

Should the West decide to stop Nasserism, expose it for what 
it was, and, with a dynamism comparable to the Soviet Union's, 
help all the elements that were ready to resist Nasserism, stability 
could be established in the Middle East, and the attempt of the 
Soviet to dominate the area could be defeated. 


The following list is intended to help the reader who may be 
interested in further reading on the various subjects and aspects treated 
in the book, and to complement the limited references in the footnotes. 

Since practically all the titles-of books as well as articles are self- 
explanatory, it was not considered desirable to break up the bibli- 
ography according to subjects or according to character of material. 
A direct alphabetical system is followed, with the exception of the 
section "Bibliographies" which is given at the very beginning. 

The list, although substantial, is by no means exhaustive and in- 
evitably selective, especially in the coverage of the ancient and 
mediaeval periods. 


American University of Beirut, A Post-War Bibliography of the Near 
Eastern Mandates, Beirut, 1933. 

American University of Beirut, Economic Research Institute, A Selected 
and Annotated Bibliography of Economic Literature on the 
Ar'abic Speaking Countries of the Middle East, 1938-1952, 
Beirut, 1954; 1953 Supplement, 1955; 1954 Supplement, 1955; 
1955 Supplement, 1956; 1956 Supplement, 1957. 

The Arabian Peninsula, Washington, 1951, Library of Congress, Mimeo- 

Cahiers de L'Qrient Contemporain, bibliographical sections. 

Ettinghausen, # Richard, (Ed.), A Selected and Annotated Bibliography 
of Books and Periodicals in Western Languages Dealing with 
the Near and Middle East, with Special Emphasis on Medi- 
aeval and Modern Times, Washington, 1952. Supplement to 
above, 1954. 

Hebrew University, Economic Research Institute, A Selected Bibliog- 
raphy of Articles Dealing with the Middle East 1939-1950, 
Jerusalem, 1954. For the years 1951-1954, 1955. 

League of Nations Library, List of Works Relating to the Mandates 
System and the Territories under Mandate Catalogued in the 
Library of the League of Nations, Geneva, 1930. 

The Middle East Journal, bibliographical sections. 



Middle Eastern Affairs, bibliographies in the January, April, June- July 
and October issues. 

Patai, Raphael, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria: An Annotated Bibli- 
ography, New Haven, 1957. 

Thomsen, Peter (Ed.), Die Palastina-Literatur Eine Internationale 
Bibliographic in systematischer Ordnung mit Autoren und 

Abdullah, b. Hussein, Mudhakkirati (Arabic: My Memoirs), Jerusalem, 


My Memoirs Completed, Washington, B.C., 1954. 

Abel, F. M., Geographic de la Palestine, Paris, 1933-1935, 2 Vols, 
Abramowitz, Z., and J. Guelfat, Hameshek Haaravi (Hebrew: The 

Arab Economy), Tel Aviv, 1944. 
Abramsky, S., "Iron in Trans-Jordan" (Hebrew), Davar, February 17, 

Abuetan, Barid, "Anthropology, Economics and Military Affairs of 

Jordan," Middle Eastern Affairs, IX, 65-71, February, 1958. 
"East-West Middle East Policies," Middle Eastern Affairs, VII, 

269-285, August-September, 1956. 
Alami, Musa, 'The Lesson of Palestine," The Middle East Journal, 

III, 373405, October, 1949. 
Alan, Ray, "Jordan: ^ se an< * Fall of a Squirearchy," Commentary, 

XXIII, 242-249, March, 1957. 
"Plot and Counterplot in Hussein's Jordan," The Reporter, 

XVI, 27-29, May 30, 1957. 
Albright, William Foxwell, Archeology of Palestine and the Bible, 

New York, 1932. 

"The Jordan Valley in the Bronze Age," Annual of the Amer- 
ican Schools of Oriental Research, VI, 13-74, 1925. 
Al Bustani, Yusuf, Aanan fi Amman (Arabic: Two Years in Amman), 

Cairo, 1925. 
Alem, Jean-Pierre, "En Jordanie, Tagonie d'un royaume," Orient, 

No. 2, 100-114, April, 1957. 
AI-Khalidi, Yasin, "Palestine Trade with Transjordan" (Arabic), Al 

Alam al Arabi, 19-21, March, 1948. 
Al kitab al-urduni al abyad Suriya al Kubra (Arabic: The Transjordan 

White Paper: Greater Syria), Amman, 1947. 
Arlosoroff, Haim, "Abdullah and the Jews" (Hebrew), Molad, I, 

189-192, July, 1948. 
Al Tahir, Ali Nassuh, "Agriculture in the Kingdom of Jordan" 

(Arabic), Al Alam al Arabi, 20-23, April, 1948. 
Anderson, Totton J., "The Arab League," World Affairs Interpreter, 

XXIII, 237-258, Autumn, October, 1952. 


Anthon, Carl G., "Die Aussenpolitik der USA in mittleren Osten," 

Zeitschrift fiir Politik, III, 1841, August, 1956. 
Antonius, George, The Arab Awakening: The Story of the Arab 

National Movement, New York, 1938. 
"The Armed Forces of Transjordan" (Hebrew), Maarakhot, 87-133, 

January, 1948. 

Assaf, M., "Britain's Position in the Hashimite States" (Hebrew), 
Hamizrah Hehadash, V, 14-15, Autumn, 1953. 

Toldoth Hashilton Haaravl B'eretz Yisrael (Hebrew: History 

of the Arab Rule in the Land of Israel), Tel Aviv, 1935. 
Assaf, S., and A, L. Myer (Eds.), Sefer Hayishuv mimei Kibush Eretz 
Yisrael al Yedei Haaravim ad Masaei Hatzlav (Hebrew: 
History of the Jewish Community in Palestine from the Con- 
quest of the Arabs to the Crusaders), Jerusalem, 1944. 
Auler, Pasha, "Die Hedschasbahn," Dr. A. Petermann's Mitteilungen 
aus Justus Perthes* Geographischer Anstalt, Erganzunghefte, 
154 (1906), 161 (1908). 

Avi-Yonah, Michael, "The City Boundaries of Roman Trans- Jordan" 
(Hebrew), Bulletin of the Jewish Exploration Society, XI, 1-8, 
October 1943-May, 1944. 

"Economic Past of Transjordan," Palestine and Middle East 

Economic Magazine, X, 246-251, June, 1938. 

Geographiyah shel Eretz Yisrael I'min Shivath Tsion v'ad 

Reshith Hakibush Haaravi (Hebrew: Geography of the Land 
of Israel from the Returning of the Exiles from the Land of 
Babylon until the Beginning of the Arab Conquest), Jeru- 
salem, 1949. 

The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem, 1957. 

Bachkaryov, Y., "Jordan Impressions/' New Times, 24-26, March 7, 

Bachmann, W., C. Watzinger, Th. Wiegand, Petra, Berlin and Leipzig, 

Baer, Gabriel, "Land Tenure in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan," 

Land Economics, XXXIII, 187-197, August, 1957. 
"Land Tenure in Transjordan" (Hebrew), Hamizrah Hehadash, 

III, 233-241, Spring, 1952. 

Baer, L, "Latrun Battles" (Hebrew), Maarakhot, 70-94, November, 1955. 
jBarton, George A., Archeology and the Bible, Philadelphia, 1937. 
Baster, James, "Economic Problems of Jordan," International Affairs, 

XXXI, 26-36, January, 1955. 

B., D. V., "In Memoriam. H. M. Abdullah ibn al Hussein," Journal 
of the Royal Central Asian Society, XXXVIII, 212-214, 
October, 1951. 

Beenei Oyev (Hebrew: Through the Eyes of the Enemy), Tel AviV, 


Bentwich, Norman, England in Palestine, London, 1932. 

Bergman, Abraham, "The Israelite Occupation of Eastern Palestine in 

Light of Territorial History," American Oriental Society 

Journal, LIV, 169-177, June, 1934. 
Blake, G. S., The Mineral Resources of Palestine and Transjordan, 

Jerusalem, 1930. 
Blanckenhorn, Max, Naturwissenschaftliche Studien am Toten Meer 

und im Jordantal, Berlin, 1912. 
Blandin, Ren^e X., Jordanie, n.p., 1955. 
Bliss, F. J., "Narrative of an Expedition to Moab and Gilead in 

March, 1895," Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly State- 
ment, XXVII, 203-235, 1895. 
Boyer, David S., "Petra, Rose-red Citadel of Biblical Edom," National 

Geographic Magazine, CVII, 853-870, December, 1955. 
Braslavsky, Joseph, Aqaba (Hebrew), Tel Aviv, 1948. 
Brawer, A. L, Eretz Yisrael (Hebrew: Land of Israel), Tel Aviv, 1949. 
Hanegev, Haaravah vehar Edom (Hebrew: The Negev, the 

Aravah and Mount Edom), Jerusalem, 1947. 

Bremand, Edouard, Le Hedjaz dans la Guerre Mondiale, Paris, 1931. 
Broome, Edwin C., Jr., "The Dolmens of Palestine and Transjordania," 

Journal of Biblical Literature, LIX, 479-497, December, 1940. 
Briinnow, Rudolf Ernst, and Alfred Domaszcewski, Die Provincia 

Arabia, Strassburg, 1904. 
Buckingham, J. S., Travels among the Arab Tribes Inhabiting the 

Countries East of Syria and Palestine, London, 1825. 
Travels in Palestine, through the Countries of Bashan and 

Gilead, East of the River Jordan, Including a Visit to the 

Cities of Geraza and Gamala in the Decapolis, London, 1821. 
Buhl, D, F., Geographic des Alien Palastina, Freiburg, 1896. 
Buhl, Frants, Geschichte der Edomiter, Leipzig, 1893. 
Burckhardt, Johannes Ludwig, Travels in Syria and the Holy Land, 

London, 1822. 

Casto, E. Ray, and Oscar W. Dotson, "Economic Geography of Trans- 
Jordan," Economic Geography, IV, 121-130, April, 1938. 
Catroux, Georges, Deux Missions en Moyen-Orient (1919-1922), Paris, 

Chapman, J. D., 'The Forests of the Transjordan," Empire Forestry 

Review, XXVI, 245-252, 1947. 
Chizik, L, "The Political Parties in Palestine," Journal of the Royal 

Central Asian Society, XXI, 94-128, January, 1934. 
"The Political Parties in Trans-Jordania," Journal of the Royal 

Central Asian Society, XXII, 96-99, April, 1935. 
Coate, Winifred A., "The Condition of the Arab Refugees in Jordan," 

International Affairs, XXIX, 449456, October, 1953. 


Cohen, Aharon, Hamizrah Haaravi (Hebrew: The Arab East), Haifa, 

"The Composition of the Jordanian Parliament" (Hebrew), Hamizrah 

Hehadash, III, 196-197, Winter, 1952. 

Conder, Claude Reignier, Heth and Moab, Explorations in Syria in 
1881 and 1882, London, 1892. 

The Survey of Eastern Palestine, London, 1889. 

"Constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" (Text), The 

Middle East Journal, VI, 228-238, Spring, 1952. 
Cooke, Hedley V., Challenge and Response in the Middle East. The 

Quest for Prosperity, 1919-1951, New York, 1952. 
Grossman, R. H. S., "Israel and Jordan," New Statesman and Nation, 

XLI, February 10 and 17, March 3 and 10, 1951. 
Crowfoot, J. W., Churches of Jerash, Supplementary Papers 3 of the 

British School of Archeology in Jerusalem, London, 1931. 
Cuinet, Vital, Syrie Lib an et Palestine Geographic Administrative, 

Statistique f Descriptive et Raisonnee, Paris, 1896. 
Cunningham, Alan, "Palestine the Last Days of the Mandate," Inter- 
national Affairs, XXIV, 481490, October, 1948. 
Dalman, Gustaf, Neue Petra-Forschungen und der heilige Felsen von 

Jerusalem f Leipzig, 1912. 
"Die Tobia-Inschrift von Arak-al Amir und Daniel 11, 14," 

Paldstina Jahrbuch^ XVI, 33-35, 1920. 

Petra und seine Felsenheiligtumer, Leipzig, 1908. 

Dayan, M., "The Commando Battalion" (Hebrew), Maarakhot, 34-40, 

July, 1950. 

Dearden, Ann, Jordan, London, 1958. 

De Chair, Somerset Steuben, The Golden Carpet, London, 1944. 
De Saulcy, F&icien, Voyage autour de la Mer Morte et dans les Terres 

Bibliques execute de D6cembre 1850 & Avril 1851, Pads, 1853. 
Voyage d'exploration & la Mer Morte, a Petra, et sur la rive 

gauche du Jourdain en 1864, Paris, 1874. 
Dijani, AH, Muhadarat ft iqtisadiyyat Urdun (Arabic: Lectures on the 

economics of Jordan), Cairo, 1954. 
"Dilemma over the Jordan," The Economist, CLXVII, 822-823, June 

20, 1953. 
Doughty, Charles Montagu, Travels in Arabia Deserta, Cambridge, 

D. W., "Hope for the Arab Refugees: The Yarmuk Project," The 

World Today, VIII, 512-521, December, 1952. 
Dubertret, L., and J. Weulersse, Manuel de Geographic: Syrie, Liban 

et Proche Orient, Beirut, 1940. 
el-Farhan, Hamad, "Development Projects in Jordan" (Arabic), al 

Abhath, VIII, 363-388, September, 1955. 


Emirate of Trans-Jordan, Annual Report of the Department of Health 

for the Year 1928, mimeographed. 
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Epstein, Eliahu, "The Bedouin of Transjordan," Journal of the Royal 

Central Asian Society, XXV, 228-236, April, 1958. 
"The Economic Situation of the Transjordan Tribes," Journal 

of the Royal Central Asian Society, XXVI, 177-184, January, 

Erskine, Mrs. Stewart, Trans-Jordan, London, 1924. 

The Vanished Cities of Arabia, New York, 1925. 

Ettinger, M., Verkehrswesen und Verkehrspolitik in Palastina, Berlin, 

Ewing, William, Arab and Druze at Home: A Record of Travel and 

Intercourse with the Peoples East of the Jordan, London 

and Edinburgh, 1907. 
Eytan, Walter, The First Ten Years. A Diplomatic History of Israel, 

New York, 1958. 
Fans, Nabih A., and Mohammed T. Husayn, The Crescent in Crisis: an 

Interpretive Study of the Modern Arab World, Lawrence, 

Kansas, 1955. 
Ficheleff, Samuel, Le statut international de la Palestine orientale (la 

Transjordanie), Paris, 1932. 
Finer, Herman, "Reflections on the Nature of Arab Nationalism," 

Middle Eastern Affairs, IX, 302-312, October, 1958. 
Fisher, Clarence S., "The Campaign at Jerash in September and 

October, 1931," Annual of the American Schools of Oriental 

Research, XI, 131-169, 1931. 
Fisher, Clarence S., and Chester C. McCown, "Jerash-Gerasa 1930," 

Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research, XI, 

1-59, 1931. 
Fleming, Jackson, "A Visit to Amir Abdullah," Asia, XXXVIII, 63-65, 

January, 1938. 
Forder, A., In Brigands Hands and Turkish Prisons 1914-1918, London 


Petra, Perea, Phoenicia, London, 1923. 

With the Arabs in Tent and Town, London [1902]. 


Frusen, H. W., "Vom Mosesberge zum Mosesgrab," Palastinajahrbuch 
des deutschen evangelischen Instituts fur Altertumswissen- 
schaft des heilegen Landes in Jerusalem, IV, 91-103, 1908. 
Gardner, L. $., "Oil Possibilities in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan/' 

The Oil Forum, VIII, 448-350 ff., Mid-November, 1954. 
Garnett, David (Ed.), The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, London, 1951. 
Garstang, J., The Heritage of Solomon. An Historical Introduction to 

the Sociology of Ancient Palestine, London, 1934. 
G. E. K., "Cross-currents within the Arab League: the Greater Syria 

Plan," The World Today, IV, 15-25, January, 1948. 
Giannini, Amadeo, "La constituzione della Transgiordania," Oriente 

Moderno, XI, 117-131, March, 1931. 

Gibb, H. A. R., "Anglo-Egyptian Relations: A Revaluation," Inter- 
national Affairs, XXVII, 440450, October, 1951., 
Gilmore, Albert Field, East and West of Jordan, Boston, 1929- 
Glubb, John Bagot, "Britain and the Middle East," Journal of the 
Royal Central Asian Society, XLVI, 216-225, July-October, 

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Abbasid dynasty 78 

Abdul Hadi, Auni-132 

Abdul Hadi, Ruhi Bey, Minister 
Foreign Affairs 284, 292 

Abdul Hamid, Sultan of Tureky 99, 

Abdul Illah, Regent of Iraq-204, 
237, 340, 370 

Abdullah ibn Husain-104, 106, 113, 
118, 119, 122, 130, 131, 132, 133, 
134, 135, 136, 137, 139, 140, 141, 
142, 143, 146, 148, 153, 155, 156, 
157, 166, 167, 172, 177, 190, 191, 
203, 204, 211, 219, 221, 223, 224, 
225, 227, 228, 230, 231, 232, 233, 
234, 235, 236, 237, 239, 240, 244, 
248, 249, 260, 261, 263, 270, 271, 
272, 280, 282, 284, 288, 289, 290, 
291, 292, 293, 294, 295, 297, 298, 
299, 300, 302, 306, 308, 309, 315, 
316, 317, 321, 374, 393, 394; as king 
of Iraq, 122; at war with Germany, 
203; back to Mecca, 117; becomes 
King, 213; character of, 104-5, 221- 
4; commander of all Arab armies, 
250, 253; consent to 1928 agree- 
ment, 171; escapes Khurma, 119; 
his lather's Foreign Minister, 115, 
116; on Lawrence, 117; on rela- 
tions between Cox, Resident, and 
Chief Ministers, 184n.; state of 
mind, 2$8n.; visit to Riad, 1948, 

Abila (Tel Abil)-34, 42, 65, 66 

Abu Adwan, Sultan Pasha 148 

Abu al Fida-82, 83, 86 

Abu Bakr, Caliph-76 

Abu Nuwar, Ali-336, 339, 348, 349; 
and Bagdad Pact, 326; andGlubb's 
ouster, 332; chief of staff, Arab 
Legion, 331, 357, 360, 366; re- 
moved as chief of staff, 350 

Abul Huda, Hassan Khalid Pasha, 
Chief Minister 166, 167; dis- 
missed, 176 

Abul Huda, Tawfiq Pasha, Chief 
Minister and Premier 184, 185, 
217, 235, 236, 240, 245, 246, 252, 
264, 291, 292, 295, 310, 314, 315, 

317, 318, 323, 324, 325, 390 
Actium, battle of 53 
ad Din Jarallah, Shaikh Husam 283 
Adwan 96 
Adwan tribe-84, 142 
Agrippa I, grandson of Herod 56 
Agrippa II 56 
Ahab, King of Israel 25 
Ahaz, King of Judah 29 
Ahmad "al Jazzer" 85 
Aila (Elath)-59, 80 
Ain Jalut (Beth Shean), battle of 


Ain Musa (Moses* Well)-60 
Ais, Wadi-116 
Ajlun-59, 82, 83, 85, 98, 146; district, 

14, 161, 162, 180; qaimmaqam in, 

established, 90 

Ajluni, Muhammad All 337 
al Adrissi 103 

al Ahd al Iraqiya (Iraqi Coven- 
anters) 122 
at Alamain-234 
al Azm, Khalid, Syrian Premier 

287, 289; goes to Moscow, 364 
al Azzam, Abdul Rahman, Secretary 

General, Arab League 239, 248n., 

249, 251, 252, 262, 273n., 282 
al Barazi, Muhsin, Syrian Premier 

al Faruqi, Shaikh Sulaiman Tail 

al Gailani, Rashid Ali-204, 206, 

al Ghazri, Said, Syrian Premier 

al Hayari, AH, chief of staff, Arab 

Legion-336, 351, 361, 366; on his 

resignation, 351; to be tried for 

treason, 357 
al Husaini, Haj Amin-191, 225, 227, 

246, 267, 280 
al Husaini, Mussa 310 
al Jabari, Shaikh Muhammad Ali 

al Jamali, Fadil, Iraqi Premier 252, 

322, 370 
al Jundi, Brig. Abdul Oadir Pasha 




al Kassim, Brig. Abdul Karim, Iraq 
Premier 379 

al Majali, Habas-310 

al Majali, Maj. Gen. Hafiz-366 

al Majali, Haza, Premier 327; and 
Bagdad Pact, 328 

al Makawer (Macharus) 52n. 

al Mitni, Nasib-376 

al Mufti, Said Pasha, Premier 295, 
306, 312, 324, 327, 336, 337, 349, 
350, 390 

al Mulqi, Fawzi, Defense Minister 
and Premier-292, 318, 323, 349 

al Mussa, Col. Mahmud 357 

al Qudsi, Nazim, Syrian Premier 
298, 303 

al Quwatli, Shukri, Syrian President 
-237, 287, 337, 355, 361, 367, 370; 
visits Moscow, 364 

al Tabara, Maj. Ali-310 

al Tel, Col. Abdullah-274, 304, 310 

Aleppo 83, 98 

Alexander of Macedon 8, 12, 30, 32, 

Alexander, son of Aristobulus 51 

Alexander Janneus, son of John 
Hyrcanus-41, 42, 47, 48, 50 

Alexandra, Queen of Alexander Jan- 
neus 47, 48 

Alexandretta 238 

Alexandria 236 

AH ibn Husain-104, 110, 113, 119, 
154, 156; King of Hijaz-157 

Allat, mother of the gods of the 
Nabateans 37 

Allenby, Sir Edmund, General, com- 
mander, Egyptian Expeditionary 
Force-114, 122 

Amaziah, King of Judah 29 

Amery, S. Leopold, Colonial Secre- 

Amman-10, 11, 14, 17, 24, 30, 59, 
79, 82, 92, 95, 100, 114, 125, 130, 
.131, 136, 139, 141, 144, 145, 146, 
148, 149, 153, 154, 156, 161, 162, 
176, 180, 191, 198, 200, 208, 217, 
225, 227, 235, 237, 238, 244, 251, 
254, 274, 282, 291, 293, 306, 312, 
314, 322, 323, 324, 328, 329, 330, 
331, 340, 347, 350, 352, 355, 360, 
361, 369, 370, 374, 375 

Amman river 14 

Ammon 20, 21, 22, 25, 92 
Ammonite government, modern 126 
Ammonites-11, 21, 23, 24, 41 
Amorites 11, 21, 23 
Amr, Maj. Gen. Abdul Hakim, 
Egyptian Defense Minister 329, 
336, 342 


Anglo-Jordanian Treaty of Alliance 
1946-212, 213, 215, 245, 260 

Anglo-Jordanian Treaty of Alliance 
1948-297, 325, 327, 342 

Ankara-367, 369 

Annab, Maj. Gen. Radi-336 

Antigonus Cyclops 36 

Antioch 32 

Antiochia 68 

Antiochus III of Syria 37 

Antiochus IV-68 

Antiochus Epiphanus 46 

Antiochus, King of Syria 40, 41 

Antipater, father of Antipater 48 

Antipater, father of Herod 48, 49, 

Aqaba-3, 13, 21, 30, 59, 100, 113, 
123, 154, 155, 156, 200, 256, 275, 
276; sub-district of, 157 

Aqaba, Gulf of-3, 16, 20, 25, 59, 80, 
81, 155, 158, 234, 276 

Aqaba port of 312 

Aqaba wharf 244 

ar Rirai, Abdul Munim-348, 387 

ar Rifai, Samir Pasha, Chief Minis- 
ter, Premier-236, 240, 241, 245, 
291, 308, 310, 329, 333, 336, 361, 
369, 390 

Arab Congress 122 

Arab Delegation to Paris Peace Con- 
ference 122 

Arab Higher Commitee 227, 228, 
230, 258, 263 

Arab League-211, 232, 237, 240, 245, 
249, 259, 262, 265, 267, 271, 275, 
280, 282, 287, 291, 295, 296, 298, 

303, 305, 312, 322, 376, 387, 388; 
charter of, 237, 292, 295, 388; 
Council of, 238, 240, 249, 286, 291, 
377, 1 378; Political Committee of, 
259; Secretary General of, 239 

Arab Legion-147, 148, 149, 150, 159, 
161, 165, 166, 178, 196, 201, 202, 
203, 204, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 
215, 220, 224, 245, 246, 248, 252, 
254, 256, 257, 260, 263, 265, 270, 
272, 273, 275, 280, 295, 299, 301, 

304, 306, 308, 310, 316, 317, 319 
323, 325, 326, 327, 329, 332, 334, 
336; Abdullah on, 160; and the De- 
sert Patrol, 179n.; British officers in, 
160; budget, 251; Law of 1927, 
159; strength of, 255; subsidy, 262 

Arab Palestine 246, 263, 270, 271 
286, 287, 289, 290, 291, 293, 294, 
296, 298, 300, 341, 393, 394 

Arab Revolt-106, 116, 222, 223, 225 
233, 288 

Arab Revolt Day 204, 232 



Arab state of Palestine 246 
Arab Union-375, 381, 383; dissolved, 
392; name of Jordan-Iraq federa- 
tion, 374 

Arabah, Wadi-3, 12, 25, 41, 42, 275 
Arabia-3, 9, 10, 25, 34, 35, 46, 75, 79, 

80, 99, 109, 118, 135, 149 
Arabia province 56, 59, 73 
Arabian Desert 3 
Arabian Peninsula 104, 118 
Aram-25, 29 
Araq al Amir 45, 46 
Aretas II, King of the Nabateans 

Aretas III, King of the Nabateans 

Aretas IV, King of the Nabateans 

Aristobulus, son of Alexander Jan- 

neus-47, 48, 49, 51 
Arnon river-23, 25, 26, 29, 31, 34, 

Arslan, Mazhar Bey, chief adviser 

139, 141, 143 

as Said, Nuri, Iraqi Premier 204, 
227, 234, 235, 237, 239, 288, 309, 
315, 339, 343, 369 
as Salt-82, 83, 83n., 90, 98, 114, 125, 

127n., 145, 162 
as Sulh, Riad, Lebanese Premier 

as Suwaidi, Tawfiq, Iraqi Premier 


Ascalon (Ashkelori)-SO 
Ash Sharah-78 

Associated and Allied Powers 115 
Assyrians 29 
Aswan High Dam-338 
Atlantic Charter 234 
Attlee, Clement, Prime Minister 


Augustus Caesar 53 
Austin, Warren, U.S. Ambassador to 

Ayyub 81 

Ayyubid dynasty 81, 82 
az Zaim, Husni, Syrian Army chief 

of staff 287 

Azhar University in Cairo-282 
Azraq (oasis)-I3, 59, 179, 201 

Baalis, King of the Ammonites 29 
Bab al Wad, battle of-257 
Babylon 4, 8 
Babylonia-30, 31 
Babylonians 29 

Bagdad-78, 150, 204, 237, 238, 241, 
262, 266, 288, 330, 339, 342, 343, 

360, 362, 370, 379, 380, 382, 383, 

Bagdad Pact-316, 324, 325, 327, 329, 
331, 344, 369, 372, 373, 383, 400; 
cancellation, 372 
Baibars, Sultan 82 

Balfour declaration-134, 135 
Balfour, James-134, 135, 136 
Balqa-14, 45, 54, 73, 78, 82, 84, 85, 

90, 101, 147, 161, 162, 180--^ - 
Balqa tribes 14&- 
Bandung Conference 325 
Basca 41 
Bashan 53 

Bashan, Mazhar Bey 130 
B^shayan, Burhan Eddin, Iraqi For- 
eign Minister 329 
Basra-40, 204 
Bassus, Roman general 56 
Bayar, Celal, President of Turkey 

Bedouin Control Board 178, 195, 


Bedouin Control Law 178, 196 
Beeley, Harold, British representa- 
tive in Security Council 275 
Beersheba-254, 308 
Beirut-249, 309, 347, 376, 378 
Beirut, vilayet of 98 
Benghazi (Libya) 377 
Ben Gurion, David, Israeli Prime 

Minister 340 
Beni Atiya 12, 85 
Beni Hassan-85, 180, 195 
Beni Sakhr-84, 85, 90, 90n., 148, 150, 

161, 180 

Benjamin, tribe of 31 
Bentwich, N.-155 
Bernadotte, Count Folke, UN Medi- 

ator-259, 261, 266 
Bernadotte plan-267, 269-70 
Bevin, Ernest, Foreign Secretary 

212, 217, 219, 245, 260, 267, 269 
Bizri, Afif-364, 365 
Bonar Law, Andrew 135 
Bosra-59, 73 
British financial aid 301 
British policy, Arabia Islamic state, 
108; centered on Iraq, 345; Middle 
East, 128; Sharifian, 123, 133, 152, 
British Resident, in Transjoidan 

171, 183 

Bronze age 11, 20 
Bunche, Ralph J,, UN Acting Medi- 

ator-267, 273 
"Burma Road"-257 
Byzantine Empire 74, 75, 76 



Byzantium 73, 75 

Cadogan, Sir Alexander, British rep- 
resentative at UN 258, 259 
Caesar, Julius 50 

Cairo-106, 122, 131, 145, 208, 232, 
234, 235, 238, 241, 261, 282, 291, 
292, 322, 335, 336, 338, 344, 347, 

352, 355, 360, 361, 366, 383 
Cairo Conference 1921-133, 136 
Cairo-Damascus caravan route 80 
Cairo-Moscow arms deal 365 
Caligula, Emperor 56 
Caliphate-152, 153, 227 
Callirrhoe (Zarqa Main) 52 
Canaan-3, 11, 22 
Canatha-34, 51, 65 
Carnaim 40 

Catroux, Gen. Georges 233 
Central Powers-106, 109 
Chabon, virgin mother of Dushara 


Chamberlain, J. Austen 135 
Chamoun, Camille, Lebanese Presi- 

dent-325, 362, 369, 379 
Chancellor, Sir John, High Commis- 
sioner for Palestine 187 
Chechens-92, 161 
Chemosh-22, 23, 26, 28 
Christian Arabs-161, 176 
Chrosroes II, Persian king 74 
Churchill, Winston, Colonial Secre- 

tary-123, 125, 127, 131, 132, 133, 

134, 137, 139, 141, 310 
Circassians-11, 92, 161, 176; in 

Transjordan Frontier Force 159 
Clayton, Sir Gilbert, Chief Secretary 

of Palestine-141, 153, 158 
Cleopatra 52, 53 
Clermont-Ganneau, Charles 26n. 
Coele-Syria (Transjordan)-32, 37, 42 
Coghill, Col. Sir Patrick-332 
Colonial Development Fund 190 
Conder 17, 68, 96; on character of 

bedouin, 96n. 
Congress of Berlin 102 
Constantine, Emperor 73 
Constantinople 73, 75, 99, 100, 101, 

102, 105; 106, 109 
"Constantinople Agreement" of Mar. 

18, 1915-108 

Constantinople and the Straits 103 
Consultative Council 141; replace- 

ing Council of Advisers, 139 
Cornelius Palma, Governor of Syria 


Cornwallis, Kinahan 132n, 
Council of Advisers-139 
Cox, Col. C.H.F., British Resident- 

143, 144, 148, 185; relations with 

Chief Minister 184n. 
Cox, Sir Percy, High Commissioner 

for Iraq-152 
Crimean War 90 
cromlechs 17 
Crusaders 9, 81, 82 
Crusades-12, 79 
Curzon, Lord, Foreign Secretary 

131, 132n. 

Cyprus-102, 154, 155 
Czechoslovakia arms agreement with 


Damascus-10, 32, 34, 35, 41, 42, 49, 
51, 53, 75, 78, 82, 83, 86, 98, 99, 
113, 114, 115, 116, 122, 123, 125, 
133, 134, 135, 141, 155, 232, 241, 
250, 288, 330, 335, 338, 339, 348, 
349, 352, 361, 365, 366, 373 

Damascus jund 76, 78 

Damascus, sanjaq of 98 

Damascus, vilayet of 98, 157 

David-24, 25 

Dead Sea-12, 14, 16, 85, 276 

Decapolis-8, 30, 32, 34, 37, 38, 41, 
42, 50, 51, 53, 54, 56, 74; described 

de Chatillon, Renaud-80, 81 

Deedes, Sir Wyndham, Chief Secre- 
tary of Palestine 132, 224 

de Gaulle, Charles, Premier 383, 
384, 385 

Demetrius, King of Syria 40 

Demetrius, son of Antigonus Cyclops 

Department of Lands and Surveys 

de Puy, Roman 80 


Desert Mechanized Force 206, 208; 
becomes Desert Patrol, 203 

Desert Patrol-177, 179, 180, 196, 201, 
203, 210 

Development Department 189 

Dijani, Omar, Transjordan's agent 
at UN-249n. 

Dimaski 86 

Diodorus Siculus 37 

Dion (Tel Ashari)~34, 42, 65, 66 

dolmens 17 

Dowson, Sir Ernest 164 

Duke, Sir Charles, British Ambas- 
sador in Amman 339 

Dulles, John Foster, U.S. Secretary 
of State-365, 369, 379, 587 

Dushara, Sun god of the Nabateans 



"Eastern Question*' -89 

Eden, Sir Anthony, Foreign Secre- 
tary-204, 232, 233, 234 

Edom-3, 7, 14, 16, 20, 21, 24, 25, 31, 

Edomites-11, 21, 29, 35 

education statistics 181, 199 


Egypt-4, 8, 9, 12, 25, 31, 32, 34, 35, 
41, 45, 51, 53, 78, 88, 102, 103, 109, 
153, 217, 226, 232, 236, 237, 239, 
248, 250, 272, 273, 290, 292, 300, 
301, 303, 312, 313, 315, 316, 322, 
323, 324, 325, 327, 328, 329, 330, 
334, 339, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 
347, 348, 350, 359, 360, 361, 362, 
365, 367, 369, 378, 390, 395, 396, 
398; a British protectorate, 103 

Egyptian Camel Corps 145 

Egyptian Expeditionary Forces 114 

Egyptian-Saudi bloc 287 

Egyptian-Saudi-Syrian lineup 325 


Eisenhower, Pres. D wight D. 350, 
378, 379, 380, 383, 384, 385 

Eisenhower Doctrine 345, 347, 350, 
355, 357, 358, 362, 364 

Elath-25, 29, 41, 276, 308 

Elijah the Tishbite-29 

Emim 20 

England (see Great Britain) 211, 
237, 290, 359 

Entente powers 106 

Etzion bloc 254 

Executive Council-165, 173, 175, 
182; becomes cabinet, 185 

Eytan, Walter, Dirtctor General, Is- 
rael Foreign Office-290, 291, 305 

Ezion-Geber 25 

Faisal ibn Abdul Aziz, Premier of 
Saudi Arabia-366, 373 

Faisal ibn Ghazi, King of Iraq-335, 
351, 358, 370, 372, 374, 392 

Faisal ibn Husain, King of Iraq 
104, 105, 110, 113, 116, 119, 122, 
123, 125, 129, 132, 134, 135, 222, 
223, 225, 236; his administration of 
Damascus, 154; forces of, 114, 115; 
King of Syria, 122; position in 
Damascus, 115, 117 

Fashoda incident 109 

Fatamids 78, 79, 81 

"Fatherland Front" 266 

Fatima, daughter of the Prophet 

Fertile Crescent plan-235, 288, 289 

Filastin fund 76 

financial statictics 242 

France-103, 115, 133, 199, 344, 378 
Free French-208, 233 

Gabata 40 

Gabinius, Roman general 49n., 51, 

Gadara (Urn Qeis)-34, 42, 53, 65; 
described, 66 

Galilee-50, 54, 56, 73, 76, 78, 253, 
262, 268, 269, 272 


Gaza-41, 254, 280; area, 246 

Gerasa-30, 34, 42, 59, 65, 68, 73, 82 

Germans-102, 207 

Ghassanides 73, 74 

Ghor-12, 83 

Gilead-14, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31, 32, 40, 
41, 42, 66, 68; part of United 
Kingdom, 25; range, 14 


Glubb, John B.-177, 178, 179, 195, 
196, 198, 201, 203, 206, 208, 209, 
246, 248, 251, 254, 255, 263, 264, 
265, 274, 290, 299, 301, 302, 305, 
306, 308, 317, 325, 328, 330, 331, 

332, 333, 334, 335, 392; on al Tel, 
304; on Ali Abu Nuwar, 317, 331; 
on Talal, 302 

"Glubb's Girls"-179, 206 

Glueck, Nelson~16, 17 

Godfrey de Bouillon-79 

Golan 7B 

Gouraud, Henri J, E,, General, French 

High Commissioner for Syria 139 
government personnel, composition 

Great Britain-102, 103, 106, 115, 

199, 223, 240, 323, 324, 326, 329, 

333, 335, 338, 344, 378, 381, 390, 
400; House of Commons of, 125, 
156, 234, 245; Middle East Depart- 
ment of, 131; subsidy to Jordan, 

Greece-34, 208 

Gromyko, Andrei, Foreign Minister 
-386, 387 


Hadassah Hospital 257 

Hadassah Hospital-Hebrew Univer- 
sity on Mt. Scopus 273 

Hadda Agreement 177; outline of, 

Haifa-100, 110, 114, 192, 288 

Haifa-Tel Aviv railway-278 

Haikal, Dr. Yussif-284 


Hajj road-9, 10, 14 

Hama, sanjaq of 98 


Hamam Sara 78 

Hammarskjold, Dag, UN Secretary 

General-383, 384 

Hanun, King of the Ammonites 24 
Hardinge, Lord, Viceroy of India 


Hareth ibn JahaIa-74 
Hasa, Wadi (Zered)-14, 16, 21 
Hashim, House of 223, 225, 226, 

227, 232, 288, 300, 313, 334, 370, 

Hashim, Ibrahim, Chief Minister, 

Premier-182, 184, 211, 212, 237, 

240, 328, 329, 338, 355; assassinated, 

390; resignation, 184n. 
Hashim-Saud alignment 360 
Hashimis-119, 129, 135, 136, 149, 


Hasma 13 

Hasmoneans-38, 40, 42, 47, 49, 52 
Hassan, Mohammed, court jester 


Hattin (Hittin), battle of-81 
Hauran 34, 53; sanjaq, 98 
Hazael, King of Aram 29 
Hebrew University 257 
Hebron-35, 254, 282, 295, 329 
Hebron-Jerusalem road 254 
Hellenism-32, 36, 38, 50, 51 
Henderson, Loy W., U.S. Deputy 

Undersecretary of State 364, 365 
Heraclius, Emperor 75 
Herod-48, 50, 51, 52, 53 
Herod Antipas 54, 56 
Herodias, wife of Herod Antipas 

54, 56 

Hesban, Wadi (Heshbon)-14, 21, 82 
Heshbon-42, 46, 53, 59 
Hijaz-84, 100, 104, 105, 110, 130, 

133, 152, 154, 155, 156, 226, 227, 

228, 372; soldiers of, 119; vilayet 
of, 157 

Hijaz railway-10, 13, 74, 100, 101, 

113, 114, 130, 135, 149, 155, 159, 


Hilmi, Ahmad Pasha-263, 267, 280 
Hinnawi, Col. Sami-288, 289 
Hippos-34, 42, 53, 65 
Hiram, King of Tyre 25 
Holy Sepulchre-79 
Horites 20 
House of Deputies 241, 296, 299, 

312, 322, 337, 341, 342, 369 
House of Notables 241, 295, 296 
Humaima 78 
Husain ibn Talal, King of Jordan 

318, 322, 323, 325, 328, 330, 332, 


333, 335, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 
346, 347, 349, 351, 352, 355, 356, 
358, 360, 361, 362, 366, 369, 375, 

379, 380, 383, 390, 400; becomes 
King, 317; named Crown Prince, 

Husain, Sharif of Mecca, head of 
House of Hashim, King of Hijaz 
104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 115, 118, 
122, 123, 129, 134, 136, 152, 153, 
154, 155, 156; demands, 107 

Husaini, Jamal 263 

Huwaitat 85, 101 

Hutton, Brig. William-332 

Hyrcanus, son of Alexander Janneus 
47, 48, 49, 50, 51 

Hyrcanus, son of Joseph Tobiad 
45, 46 

Ibn Batutah 86 

Ibn Saud, Abdul Aziz, Sultan of 
Najd, King of Saudi Arabia 103, 
104, 105, 117, 118, 149, 152, 153, 
154, 158, 177, 198, 222, 225, 227, 
228, 237, 239, 261, 263, 312 

Ibrahim Pasha-9, 85, 86, 89, 90 

Idumea-35, 48, 73 

Idumeans 53 

India-3, 34, 103, 384 

International Bank Mission 319, 320 

Iraq-12, 115, 122, 123, 129, 132, 133, 
152, 158, 192, 198, 202, 217, 225, 
226, 231, 234, 235, 236, 237, 248, 
266, 286, 288, 292, 298, 300, 312, 
314, 319, 322, 323, 324, 325, 335, 
338, 339, 342, 343, 346, 359, 364, 
365, 370, 372, 373, 375, 376, 378, 

380, 382, 383, 386, 390, 392 
Iraq- Jordan federation 372 

Iraq Petroleum Co. 192, 201, 203 
Irbid (Arbella)-59, 90, 126, 200, 304, 

351, 355 
Iron age 11 
Islamic Congress, Mecca, June 1926 

Israel-259, 262, 270, 271, 272, 284, 

289, 290, 293, 295, 300, 301, 304, 

305, 316, 320, 336, 339, 342, 344, 

369, S93, 394, 395; Foreign Office 

of, 273 

Israel, kingdom of 25 
Israelis-256, 257, 264, 265, 276, 308, 


Israelite kings 8 
Israelites 3, 11, 23 
Istanbul (Constantinople) 162 

Jabal (Gebal)-16 


abal Ajlun district-68 
Jabbok river-23, 26, 31, 54, 96 
T abesh Gilead-24 
abr, Salah, Iraqi Premier 217, 219 
afar, Ibn Abu Talib-75 
apan-381, 382 
arash (Gerasa)-68, 92, 200 
arvis, C. J., biographer of Peake 

136, 155 

Jauf (oasis)-149, 152, 161 

Jehoram, King of Israel 26 
Jehoram, King of Judah 29 
T ehoshaphat, King of Judah 25, 26 
ericho-49n., 83, 282 
Jerusalem-40, 42, 45, 48, 49, 51, 59, 
83, 114, 145, 146, 150, 201, 226, 
233, 262, 264, 266, 284, 286, 291, 
304, 366; area, 262, 284, 286; battle 
of, 256, 262; Governor of Old City, 
305; independent sanjaq, 98; Old 
City of, 252, 304, 318, 328, 329, 
350, 355 

Jewish Agency, Jerusalem 190 
Jewish National Home 136, 226 
Jewish State 249 
Jews in Transjordan Frontier Force 


'idda-103, 105, 152, 154, 158, 198 

'ofar (oasis) 13 
'ohanan the Hasmonean 40 
[ohn the Baptist 54n, 
fohn Hyrcanus, son of Simon the 

Hasmonean 41, 50 
Jonathan the Hasmonean 40, 41 
Jordan escarpment 13 
Jordan -Iraq federation 372; merger, 

Jordan river-3, 11, 12, 14, 21, 23, 30, 
32, 34, 45, 78, 114, 126, 135, 137, 
159, 255, 303, 309, 365 
brdan valley-13, 96, 306 
bsephus-42, 45, 52, 54 
'udah, kingdom of 25 
'udah Maccabee-38, 40 
[udea-31, 32, 35, 37, 38, 40, 46, 47, 
49, 50, 52, 53, 56, 73; desert of, 16 
Judean exiles-^12, 31 
Justinian, Emperor 74 

Kalat Ziza-74 

Karak (le Crac)-59, 80, 81, 82, 83, 
85, 95, 113, 126, 127, 130, 146, 147, 
162, 200; district, 16, 101, 161, 162; 
sanjaq, 98 

Karak Moba (Karak)-86 

Katamon section of Jerusalem 254 


Kennedy, Sir Alexander B. 156 

Kfar Etzion-254 

Khairi, Khulusi, Minister of Agri- 
culture and Commerce 284, 318, 

Khalid bin Walid-75 

Khalid ibn Luaj-118 

Khalidi, Husain Fakhri, Premier 
350, 352, 355 

Khanaqin 208 

Khatib, Anwar Bey, head, Jerusalem 
municipality 308n. 

Khrushchev, Nikita S., Soviet Premi- 
er-369, 383, 384, 385 

Khurma-118, 119, 222 

khuwwah (protection payment) 101 


King Faruq-232, 237, 261, 263, 282, 
283, 288, 396 

King George V 130 

King George VI-228 

King Ghazi of Iraq 228 

King Saud-322, 323, 330, ^339, 345, 
347, 357, 358, 359, 360, 361, 367, 
369, 372, 373, 400 

"king's highway"-3, 4, 9, 21, 59 

Kir (Qir) Hareseth-28 

Kir (Qir) Moab-80 

Kirkbride, Alec, British Resident, 
Minister, Ambassador to Trans- 
jordan-126, 130, 136, 153, 165, 177, 
185, 204, 206, 217, 244, 333 

Kitchener, Lord, British Resident in 
Egypt, 105, 106; Secretary of State 
for War, 106 

Klein, F. A., of Prussian Church Mis- 
sionary Society 26n., 98n. 

Kunaitra 139 

Kura-139, 146 

Lampson, Sir Miles, British Ambas- 
sador in Cairo 233 
Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem 79 
Latrun-266; battle of, 256, 257, 264 
Lawrence, T. E., 107, 113, 114, 117, 
132, 134, 139, 143, 152, 222; adviser 
. on Arab affairs, 131; on Abdullah, 

115, 116, 117 

Lawrence-Philby policy 165 
League of Nations 137, 142, 152, 
221; Council of, 136, 137, 148, 155, 
159, 161, 166, 171; Council resolu- 
tion on Transjordan, 137n. 
Lebanon-115, 207, 217, 219, 224, 232, 
233, 234, 235, 236, 239, 244, 250, 
292, 325, 339, 362, 364, 365, 366, 
376, 377, 378, 379, 380, 381, 384, 
385, 386, 398, 399, 400; Christians 
of, 235; government of, 268; ob- 



ject of CAR expansion, 374; re- 
public of, 360 
Legislative Council-172, 173, 174, 

175, 176, 182, 184, 190, 191, 211, 

233, 240 
Libya-251, 360 
Limes Arabicus8, 73 
Littleton, Oliver, British Minister of 

State in Middle East 233 
Lloyd George, David-134 
London-102, 119, 139, 183, 211,219, 

225, 227, 238, 246, 254, 276, 301, 


Lydda-Ramle, battle of-256; loss of, 

270; salient, 264, 269 

Maan-13, 78, 83, 84, 100, 123, 129, 
130, 146, 147, 154, 156, 200; district 
of, 16, 98, 161; sanjaq, 101, 155 

Maan-Aqaba area-154, 157, 158 

Maccabees 8 

Macharus, fortress of 42, 49n., 52, 

MacMahon, Sir Henry, High Com- 
missioner in Egypt-107, 108, 134 

MacMahon-Husain correspondence 

MacMahon 's undertaking to the 
Sharif of Mecca-107, 136 

Macmillan, Harold, British Prime 
Minister-378, 383, 384, 385 

Madeba-25, 26, 38, 40, 41, 42, 59, 
95; bishop of, 74 

Mafraq-207, 351 

Mahgoub, Mahmoud, Sudanese Am- 
bassador to UN 387 

Majalis-85, 95, 98 

Malchus I, King of the Nabateans 

Malik al Adal al Ayyubi-86 

Malik, Charles, Lebanese Foreign 

Mallory, Lester D., U.S. Ambassador 
to Jordan 352 


Mamluks-82, 83 

Mansion House statement 233, 234 

Mardam, Tamil Bey, Syrian Premier 
-236, 252, 253 

Mark Anthony 52, 53 

Marshall, George C, U.S. Secretary 
of State 267 

Mashitta 74 

Mathathias Antigonus, son of Aris- 
tobulus 50 

Mayhew, Christopher Paget, British 
Under Foreign Secretary 215, 275 

McDonald, Malcolm, Colonial Sec- 
retary 185 
Mecca-9, 10, 78, 83, 96, 99, 104, 105, 

106, 107, 110, 113, 119, 125, 154 
medical statistics 200 
Medina-10, 83, 100, 113, 115, 119; 

independent sanjaq of, 157 
Mediterranean-^, 53, 80, 110, 231, 

234, 287, 355, 370 
Meir, Golda, Israeli Foreign Minis- 


Menahamiya 1 39 
menhirs 17 

Mesha, King of Moab-25, 26, 28 
Mesha Stone 29 

Mesopotamia-35, 42, 103, 109, 110 
Moab-11, 14, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 

25, 26, 31, 41, 42, 86; National 

Government of, 126, 130, 131 
Moabite Stone (Mesha Stone) 26n. 
Moabites-11, 21, 23, 28; modern, 126 
Mojib, Wadi (Arnon)-14, 16, 21, 23, 

42, 98 

Mongolians 82 
Mons Regalis (Montreal) 80 
Morocco 109, 387 
Moscow-365, 367, 385 
Mosul-81, 114 
Mt. Gilead-96 
Muayta, Brig. Muhammad, King's 

chief aide-348 
Mudawara-179, 201 
Muhafazza al Asmeh (Ward of the 

Capital)-! 61 
Muhammad Ali 85 
Mukaddasi 78 
Musa, Wadi-48, 80 
mushaa system 194 
Muslim monuments 78 
Muslims-75, 80, 100, 103, 241; of 

India, 153 
Muta, battle of-75, 150 

Nabatea-54, 56, 59, 74 

Nabatean kingdom 38ff., 50; polit- 
ical organization of, 37 

Nabateans-4, 6, 7, 8, 12, 30, 31, 34, 
35, 36, 37, 48, 50, 51, 52, 53, 86 

Nablus-98, 295, 318, 323, 329, 350, 
352, 355 

Nabulsi, Sulaiman, Foreign Minister 
and Premier 308n., 328, 338, 342, 
346, 348, 350, 352, 357, 358, 359, 

Naguib, Gen. Muhammad, Egyptian 
Premier and President 316, 322 

Naharayim-306, 308 

Nahas, Mustafa Pasha, Egyptian 



Premier-232, 234, 235, 236, 237, 

Nahash, King of the Ammonites 23, 

Naif ibn Abdullah-302, 309, 310, 

312, 313, 314, 315, 317 

Na : 
Na : 

d-150, 152, 156, 158, 261, 303 
d-Iraq boundaries 158 
d-Transjordan boundaries 158 

Nashashibi, Raghib Bey, former 
mayor of Jerusalem? 284 

Nashashibis 225 '. 

Nasir, Musa, Minister of Communi- 
cations 284 

Nasser, Gamal Abd, Egyptian Pre- 
mier and President 316, 322, 323, 
330, 338, 344, 345, 346, 355, 358, 
359, 360, 361, 362, 364, 365, 370, 
372, 373, 376, 383, 386, 392, 396, 
398, 399, 400 

National Guard-319, 337, 339 


Nebuchadnezzar 29 

Negev-35, 42, 262, 266, 269, 272, 
273, 275, 276, 278 

Nehru, Prime Minister of India 
383, 384 

Nimr, Abdul Halim-349 

1928 Agreement 225; outlined, 167- 

Notre Dame Hospital 257 

Nuqrashi Pasha of Egypt 252 

Nur ad Din-81 

Obedas, King of the Nabateans 42 

Occupied Enemy Territory East 
114; North, 114; South, 114 

Oliphant, Laurence 90 

Omri, House of 26 

Omri, King of Israel 25 


Organic Law-169, 171, 175, 241; 
amended, 184; outlined, 172-5 

Ormsby-Gore, W., British represen- 
tative before Permanent Mandates 
Commission 144, 157, 230 

Ottoman Empire 102, 103, 106, 162, 
163, 397 

Ottoman public debt 163 

Oultre-Jourdain 9, 79, 86; Barony 
of, 80 

Owaini, Hassan, former Lebanese 
Premier 366 

Palacios, member of Permanent 
Mandates Commission 176 

Palestina Prima 73; Salutaris, 73; 
Secunda, 73; Tertia, 73, 76 

Palestine-9, 79, 113, 114, 115, 125, 

134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 143, 147, 

163, 184, 189, 202, 204, 208, 215, 

224, 225, 227, 228, 230, 232, 239, 

244, 245, 248, 256, 258, 264, 272, 

280, 390 

Palestine Arab press 190 
Palestine Arabs-225, 227, 230 
Palestine Conference, London, 1939 

-185, 203 
Palestine Mandate-135, 138, 145, 

171, 217; article 25 of, 137 
Palestine problem-184, 239, 240 
Palestine Royal Commission 136, 

184, 187, 227, 228, 230; proposal, 

Palestine Technical Commission 


Palestine war 269 
Palmyra-74, 207 
Pan-Islamism-10, 99, 398 
Paris-119, 282 
Paris Peace Conference 119, 122, 


Parthians-50, 51, 52 
Payen le Bouteiller 80 
Peake, Capt. F. G.-113, 127, 131, 

139, 145, 146, 147, 148, 155, 203 
Pella-34, 42, 54, 65; described, 65, 


Perea-30, 34, 38, 40, 41, 42, 50, 52, 
53, 54, 56, 65, 74, 75, 98 

Permanent Mandates Commission 
138, 143, 157, 168n., 186, 191, 192, 
196, 230; on Palestine distur- 
bances, 202n. 

Persia 8, 208 

Persian Gulf-102, 380 

Persians 8, 74 

Petra-4, 7, 31, 35, 36, 37, 58, 48, 49, 

50, 51, 56, 59, 65, 86; bishop of, 
74; described, 60ff.; history, 7 


Philadelphia-11, 30, 34, 37, 38, 41, 

51, 54, 59, 65 

Philby, H. St. John, British Repre- 
sentative in Transjordan-137, 139, 

140, 141, 142, 148, 155 
Philip, son of Herod 56 
Phoenicia-25n., 34, 41, 53 
Picot, Georges 110 
Pierre du Desert 86 

Plumer, Lord, High Commissioner 
for PaIestine-159, 167 

Pompey-49, 50, 51, 65 

population, described 162; distribu- 
tion, 180 

Portsmouth 217 

Provincia Arabia 8 

Ptolemaic dynasty 8 



Ptolemies-32, 37, 38, 42, 45 

Ptolemy 32, 37 

Ptolemy Philadelphia 37 

Qalat al Rabad~82n. 

Qasir Amrah 78 

Qatrane 84n. 

Qawuqji, Fawzi 250; forces of, 268 


Qir (Kir) Hareseth-86 

Qir (Kir) Moab-86 

Rabbah, capital of Ammon 24 

Rabbath Ammon-11, 29, 30, 37, 68 



Raglan, Lord, see Somerset 

Ramallah-264, 318, 323, 350, 355 

Ramie 266 

Ramoth Gilead (as Salt)-25, 29, 40, 

Ramtha 351 

Ras al Ein-266 

Raslan, Abdul Hasib, Syrian Min- 
ister of Defense 339 

Rawala tribe 84 

Red Sea-208 

Rephaim 20 

Rezin, King of Aram 29 

Rhodes, island-261, 273, 275, 276 

Riad-261, 339, 356 

Richards, James P., President Eisen- 
hower's personal ambassador to 
Middle East countries 347, 357 

Rikabi, AH Riza Pasha, Chief Min- 
ister-141, 143, 144, 166 

Riley, Gen. William A., Chief of 
Staff, UN Truce Supervision Or- 
ganization 268, 272 

Rimawi, Abdullah, Foreign Minister 

Roderick, Emperor 78 

Roman Empire 8, 12, 73 

Roman Senate 50 

Romans-4, 8, 37, 51, 53, 56, 65, 73, 

Rome-8, 31, 32, 36, 40, 42, 49, 50, 
51, 52 

Rommel, Erwin 208, 234 

Rose, Michael, of British Foreign 

Royal Air Force-113, 142, 144, 148, 
149, 150, 159, 177, 211 

Russia (see U.S.S.R.V-89, 103 


Salah ad Din (Saladin)-9, 80, 81, 

86, 399 ' 

Salam, Saeb, Lebanese Premier 366 

Salim, Salah, Egyptian Minister of 
State-323, 324 

Salt, Valley of-29 

Samaria 25n., 34, 56, 73, 86 

Samuel, Sir Herbert, High Commis- 
sioner for Palestine 125, 127n., 
132, 138, 141, 143, 150, 210 

San Remo Conference, Apr. 1920 
115, 131, 135, 145 

Sarraj, Lt. Col. Abdul Hamid, Syrian 
Army Intelligence Chief 361, 373 

Sarraj, Abdullah, Chief Minister 
176, 182; resignation of, 184n. 

Saudi Arabia-12, 202, 217, 219, 236, 
237, 239, 289, 292, 298, 300, 303, 
312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 319, 322, 
323, 324, 325, 327, 328, 329, 330, 
334, 335, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 
356, 358, 359, 360, 361, 364, 366, 
372, 373, 376, 380 

Saul, King of Israel-24 

Scaurus, Roman general 49, 51 

Schumacher 1 7 

Scobie, Gen. 208 

Scytopolis (Beth Shean) 32, 34 

Sea of Galilee-34, 42, 66, 81, 306 


Selaa (Petra)-16, 29 

Seleucids-8, 32, 37, 38, 40, 45, 48, 66 


Seljuk Turks-78, 79, 81 

Sepphoris in Galilee-49n. 

Shahbandar, Abdul Rahman 231 

Shaikh Jarrah-257 

Shakir, Amir 178, 196 

Shammar 152 

Sharah (Seir)~16 

Sharett, Moshe, Israeli Foreign Min- 

Shepilov, Dmitri, Soviet Foreign 
Minister 364 

Shiels, Dr. Drummond, Undersecre- 
tary for Colonies 192 

Shishakli, Adib, Syrian dictator-289, 
312, 322 

Shobek-80, 82, 101, 113, 114 

Shuckburgh, Sir John, British repre- 
sentative before Permanent Man- 
dates Commission 138 

Shukairi, Muhammad Pasha, For- 
eign Minister 306, 308 

Shuneh 305 

Sihon, Kins of Amorites-21 22, 23 

Silu, Col. Fawzi, Syrian Defense Min- 
ister 298 

Simon the Hasmonean 40 


Sir, Wadi-45 

Sirhan, Wadi-13, 149, 158 



Solomon 25, 47 

Somerset, Maj., British political ad- 
viser in Transjordan 127, 131 

Soviet Union (Russia, U.S.S.R)-338, 
344, 345, 352, 356, 360, 362, 364, 
365, 367, 369, 378, 380, 381, 383, 
384, 385, 387, 395, 396, 400 

Storrs, Ronald, Oriental Secretary 
of British Residency in CairoI 06 


Suez Canal-100, 109, 342, 344, 383; 
zone, 254, 322 

Suez Canal Co.~338 

Suez, Gulf of-256 

Sulaiman, Hikmat, Iraqi Premier 

Sulaiman the Magnificent 83 

Supreme Council for the Interpreta- 
tion of the Constitution 329 

Sutherland, Duke of 133n., 144n. 

Sweden-378, 381, 382 

Sweeney, Col. James, U.S. military 
attach^ in Jordan 352 

Sykes, Sir Mark-110 

Sykes-Picot Agreement 134, 135; 
outlined 110 

Symes, G. S., Chief Secretary of 
Palestine 157 

Syria-3, 8, 9, 10, 12, 25, 31, 32, 48, 
50, 53, 54, 78, 79, 83, 86, 88, 89, 
109, 114, 115, 125, 129, 131, 133, 
135, 199, 207, 217, 219, 223, 225, 
231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 
239, 248, 250, 287, 292, 300, 312, 
313, 314, 315, 322, 324, 328, 329, 
330, 335, 339, 342, 343, 346, 347, 
350, 351, 355, 360, 361, 362, 364, 
365, 366, 367, 369, 370, 377, 381, 
390, 395, 398; vilayet of, 157 

Syrian Chamber of Deputies 239 

Syrian Congress 129 

Syrian press 215 

Syro-Egyptian axis-351, 357; bloc, 

Syro-Egyptian-Saudi alliance 329; 
anti-Abdullah bloc, 249 

Syro-Russian multi-million ruble 
economic agreement 369 

Syrian-Soviet understanding 365 

Syro-Turkish crisis-367, 373 

Tabaqat Fahil (Pella)-65 
Tabbarah, Bahjat, Director General 

of Public Security 348 
Tafilah-59, 101, 113, 114, 200; 

Council of government of, 125n. 
Taif-113, 115, 119, 154 
Talal ibn Abdullah, King of Jordan 

-237, 302, 309, 310, 312, 313, 314, 

Talhuni, Bahjat, Chief of Royal 

Cabinet 348 
Tali, Rashid Bey, Administrative 

Secretary 138 
Tel Aviv-263, 264, 340 
Templer, Sir Gerald, Chief of Im- 
perial General Staff-326, 327; and 

Bagdad Pact, 326 
Tiberius, Emperor 54 
Tiglath-pileser 111-29 
Timotheus, commander of the Am- 
monites 40 

Tobiad principality 45, 46 
Toukan, Baha Uddin, Transjordan 

minister to Cairo 133, 292, 293, 

294, 381 
Toukan, Sulaiman, Defense Minister 


Trachon 53 
trade statistics 242 
Trajan, Emperor 56 
Trajan Way~4 

Trans-Arabian Pipeline Co. 244 
Transjordan Frontier Force 159, 

166, 177, 201, 202, 210, 261 
Transjordan Reserve Force 147, 148 
Transjordanian Nationality Law 

187, 192 

transportation statistics 200 
Treaty of London of Apr. 26, 1915 


Treaty of Versailles 152 
Tribal Courts Law, 1924-178 
Tripartite declaration of 1950350 
Tripoli (Lebanon)-376, 379 
Tristram 17 

Trypho, Syrian general 41 
Tsur (rock), (see Tyre)-45 
Tuba 78 
Turkey-85, 89, 102, 103, 106, 208, 

238, 309, 322, 324, 325, 365, 367 
Turkish Empire-9, 105, 398 
Turkish Parliament 105 
Turks-113, 155, 178, 367 
Tutunji, Dr. Jamil, Minister of 

Health and Social Affairs-216, 313 
Tyre (see Tsur)-46 
Tyre (Lebanon)-376 

Um Qeis 66 
Umnx Qeis Treaty 127n. 
Umar bin Khattab 76 
Ummayad dynasty 78 



United Arab Republic, 372, 374, 375, 
376, 377, 378, 379, 380, 381, 382, 
383, 385, 392, 400 

United Nations-211, 246, 256, 272, 
284, 286, 394; Charter of, 259; 
Economic Survey Mission for Mid- 
dle East, 284; General Assembly 
of, 212, 267, 282, 367, 385, 386, 389; 
Relief and Works Agency for Pa- 
lestine Refugees, 318; resolution 
of, 246, 257; Security Council of, 
216, 217, 257, 258, 259, 262, 267, 
269, 276, 278, 377, 378, 379, 380, 
381, 382, 384, 385, 386 

U.S.S.R. (Russia, Soviet Union)-217, 
338, 348, 382 

United States-217, 248, 258, 290, 291, 
301, 344, 346, 348, 350, 356, 357, 
358, 359, 367, 369, 375, 378, 379, 
381, 385, 386, 394, 400; forces in 
Lebanon, 380; Point Four aid, 362; 
State Dept. of, 274 

Upper Euphrates 234 

Upper Galilee-246 


Urdun jund76 

Varus, Roman general 56 
Vespasian 56 
Vichy French-207 

Wahhabis-105, 118, 119, 149, 150, 

154, 177, 222 
Wahhabism-117, 118 
Wailing Wall-201 
Washington-217, 301, 347, 357, 358, 

367, 373 

Wavell, Sir Archibald, Commander, 
Allied Forces, Middle East-204 

Western Desert 204, 208 

Western Galilee 268 

Westlake, Peter, British charg d'af- 
faires in Tel Aviv 340 

Winterton, Earl 135 

World War 1-101, 398 

World War 11-231, 232, 378 

Yabes, Wadi (Jabesh)-14 

Yafi, Abdullah, Lebanese Premier 


Yakut-82, 86 

Yambri, Arab tribe of 40, 41 
Yarmuk, battle of 75 
Yarmuk river-14, 21, 23, 31, 32, 34, 

42, 66, 75, 318 
Yarmuk scheme 318 
Yarmuk valley-3, 14 
Yemen-73, 236, 237, 292, 298, 336, 


Yokthiel (Selaa)-29 
Young Muslim Association 230 
Young Turk revolution 105 
Younger, Kenneth, Minister of State 


Zamzummim 20 

Zarqa incident 349, 352 

Zarqa Main-14, 80, 96 

Zarqa town-159, 255, 349 

Zarqa valley 14 

Zarqa, wadi (Jabbok)-14, 20, 21, 98 

Zein, Queen, Talal's wife 322 

Ziza-144, 149 


,. Kiddle. Jastera Affairs 

(Continued from front flap) 

the designs of the surrounding Arab 
states for control of his kingdom are 
examined in detail. 

Throughout the tan